MØ & HOLYCHILD set off alt-pop antics at 9:30 Club
Even though 2014 is more than halfway finished, this might be the year that female alt-pop singers dominate the music industry. The live roster for 9:30 Club includes sold-out shows from artists like Charli XCX, FKA twigs, Banks and Lykke Li. MØ and HOLYCHILD validated the legitimacy of the alt-pop trend on Sept. 22 for the first stop of their fall North American tour.
While both artists have experienced D.C. crowds prior to this gig, nothing could have prepared them for the high energy that would ensue that evening.
The LA-based duo HOLYCHILD (George Washington University alumni Liz Nistico and Louie Diller,) opened the semi-hometown show with its feisty brat pop. Think Sleigh Bells, but more tropical vibes and less intense, in-your-face shouting. The duo performed tracks from its “MINDSPEAK” EP including “Everytime I Fall,” “Happy With Me,” and “Pretend Believe.” They also sprinkled in some new songs, which were well received by the crowd.
It didn’t matter if the crowd was initially familiar with HOLYCHILD, because the duo successfully kept everyone’s attention for its entire set. Nistico excited the small cluster of attendess with her modern dancing, wiggling around in a sheer long-sleeved leotard and athletic shorts. Diller stood at a keyboard a few feet behind her, smiling as he jammed with the rest of the band. HOLYCHILD directly interacted with the crowd about as much as they interact with each other on stage, a positive reflection of both Nistico and Diller’s experience as modern art performers.
To be an entertaining performer in this age, it takes more than a cute outfit and some backup dancers. MØ (a.k.a. Karen Marie Ørsted) focuses on the visual aesthetic to engage her audience by using a projection screen that hangs from the back of the stage. During her set, an array of black-and-white film clips, from Native Americans on a reserve to a seductive pair of lips blowing bubblegum, flashed across the screen. For each song, the singer appeared on the screen in a different, fashionable ensemble, mouthing the lyrics that emerged on the screen as she executed them live.
The Danish singer stuck to the basics, wearing an oversized black t-shirt as a dress with “DEATH METAL” printed on the front over ripped tights. Her signature scrunchie stuck up on the top of her head and bounced around as she enthusiastically threw herself all over the stage around her band.
MØ was a power-house as she belted out the gems from her debut album “No Mythologies To Follow” and EP “Bikini Daze.”
When MØ shouted “Hey, you!” during the chorus of “Pilgrim,” it felt like she was speaking directly to every person in the club.
A few times, MØ dared to enter the crowd. Instead of swarming to her, the crowd formed a protective circle around her and continued to dance. During “Slow Move,” MØ boldly climbed on top of the 9:30 club bar, dancing and singing from the counter like it was no big deal.
Even when she broke out the slow love songs like “Never Wanna Know” and “Freedom (#1),” MØ delivered them in an aggressive way. MØ might be the most punk pop star right now— she looks like a tough cookie that could make anyone crumble on cue, but when she speaks, her tone is nothing but sweet.
Before returning for her encore — her Spice Girls cover of “Say You’ll Be There”— MØ yanked off her platform boots and threw them on the stage so she could crowd surf. It was rowdy in the most civil way possible, because as wild as MØ gets on stage, all she really wants to do is dance. So instead of moshing, everyone danced.
MØ seemed satisfied, smiling and excessively thanking D.C. for being “so kind” and “so nice” to her and the band. When she finished her set, she wished everyone a “glorious evening” without realizing that she had already given one to the audience.