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Story and photos by Andy ArgyrakisFrom ABBA to Ace Of Base to current EDM scene shapers Swedish House Mafia and Eric Prydz, Sweden's never had a shortage of quality pop exports over a stretch of several decades. The latest invasion comes courtesy of Icona Pop, the synth-saturated dance duo comprised of Aino Jawo and Caroline Hjelt, who could've quite possibly been influenced by all of the above, while having no trouble fitting alongside the electronically evolving Tegan and Sara, Ellie Goulding or Zedd on the airwaves.
In just three years, the group has made a major splash in America, performing before 20,000 fans at Madison Square Garden, popping up at this summer's Lollapalooza and conquering the singles stratosphere with the insanely infectious "I Love It" (featuring Charli XCX). A comfortably crowded Metro served as a showcase for all of the electro action throughout a set list split between last year's "Iconic" EP and the forthcoming full-length "This Is Icona Pop" (out September 24 at Record Company Ten/Big Beat Records).
After just over an hour on a stage that more closely resembled a spaceship, it's apparent these girls will be headlining much larger venues next time through town, making this intimate show in one of the country's most admired indie rock rooms a privilege for the already acquainted. Though it took a few songs to settle into the groove, much of the group's more pop-minded EDM ear candy was so delectable it was impossible not to join the party, as evidenced by ample audience participation on "Nights Like This," "Top Rated" and "Girlfriend."
Clearly, most came to rave alongside "I Love It," though it didn't turn out to be the highlight of the night. For starters, a collective gasp went out towards the beginning when a technical glitch resulted in a few missed beats, and although the duo's post-recovery moments were certainly savored, the track ended somewhat abruptly without any real closure or crescendo. Rather the group's flawlessly performed newest single "All Night" (inserted just prior to the encore) took control with so much immediacy it should have no trouble matching or surpassing its precursor on the charts.
No matter what the tune, Hjelt and Jawo both possessed equal charisma, and while neither were powerhouse vocalists, they were more than competent, especially when it came to harmonizing. And make no mistake, Icona Pop showed plenty of promise in spite of those few slight quips, not only for those who like alternatively-adorned electronic music, but literally anyone looking for an undeniable excuse to hit the dance floor.
Prior to the headliners, Chicago-bred rapper K. Flay demonstrated a completely different brand of girl power that was just as assertive as it was aggressive. Her performance came on the heels of the new "What If It Is" EP, the first for the Wilmette native on RCA Records after dropping a series of self-released mixtapes and compilations. The headbanging, electronic hip-hopper's short but steady set addressed some of those current cuts in her brash and buzz-worthy style, bringing additional attitude and diversity to the all female bill.
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