On Sunday night Sam and I walked to the Bowl to see Royksopp and Robyn. Oops, I mean Robyn + Royksopp as the marquee corrected me. Apparently, although I’d only ever seen it advertised as Robyn joining Royksopp, the concert had morphed into a Robyn show with some opening band called Royksopp.
As it turns out there was an actual opening act called Zhala. She gyrated up on stage in front of a Mexican flag performing karaoke of her own songs while the crowds lingered downstairs outside the amphitheater. Even when Royksopp took the stage the throngs of young hipsters weren’t concerned with taking their seats. I only remember twice during the entire concert that we spotted someone older than us, most of the crowd was about ten years younger.
As Royksopp began to play it was apparent that none in this young crowd were interested. During songs where I had expected to have a Triumphant experience that could happen in Only This Moment, I felt more like Running To The Sea since 49 Percent of the crowd were acting like they were at a party and Royksopp was nothing more than a tv on in the next room. Is this just how kids act at concerts now?
In the below video check out how not excited these kids are to see This Must be It, one of my favorite Royksopp songs. For me this was a disaster. I thought I’d never get to see this song performed live, and in a way, I still haven’t. (this video belongs to heyalfie)
When Robyn came out the crowd leapt to their feet and started singing along to most of her songs and shouting out “play Call Your Girlfriend” etc. Repeatedly we heard kids saying things to each other like “Robyn is amazing!” or “This is so amazing.” Meanwhile we ended up sitting down under the sea of undulating arms as the music itself just seemed boring, not amazing.
I started listening to Robyn in anticipation of this concert and was very surprised how generic her music and lyrics are given her association with more avant-garde acts like Royksopp. Her work is mostly dating stories sung over a pop inspired dance club mixes. It’s not terrible for what it’s intended to be. It’s not at a Britney Spears level of thoughtlessness, but it leans in that direction. She’s sort of like KISS, in that her appearance is always very bombastic and edgy, but her actual music isn’t nearly as much. For anyone that doesn’t know, KISS dresses like extras from a Lord of the Rings goblin scene but sings about “rocking and rolling all night and partying every day.” Robyn dresses like Bjork but sings songs with lyrics like “I’m in the corner, watching you kiss her, oh I’m right over here, why can’t you see me? Oh I’m giving it my all, but I’m not the girl you’re taking home, ooh.” Can’t you just hear Katy Perry singing those lyrics, or maybe Taylor Swift?
But not someone who looks like this:
(note, this is one of the promotional images for this concert, I should have been smart enough to guess it was going to be a Robyn-centric concert since they made Royksopp wear masks and stand behind her… oh well)
I found a video taken by Roberto Soto of the song everyone was screaming for, Call Your Girlfriend, judge for yourself:
Now, we already knew that Robyn was going to be the more pop oriented portion of the show, but we didn’t know that THIS was what everyone came to see. Even when when Royksopp came back out to perform their duets with Robyn the crowd was confused. As Monument (which is the best song on the new Do it Again album the tour was here to promote) the guys behind us started shouting things like “oooh, we’re getting artsy now” and “oooh, so mysterious” mocking the more dramatic tone that contrasted bluntly with Robyn’s dance club songs. Here is a video of that performance by ednla:
I never realized before this how much the vibe of an audience contributes to my own enjoyment of music. Concerts are a collective experience, otherwise I might as well be at home with my headphones on and my eyes closed. I felt bad for Royksopp, this young hipster Los Angeles audience making them seem like some artsy friends Robyn brought on tour. Robyn makes perfectly good dance club music if that’s what you’re into, but Royksopp is by far superior sonically and lyrically; far more imaginative and daring, but it was lost on this crowd.
Because it was placed in the set closer to Robyn’s performance, The Girl and the Robot still had most of the crowd on their feet, even if they were unfamiliar with it. This was probably the only time I got some semblance of the experience I had expected from this concert. (video by ednla again)
Even the encore was Robyn’s hip-hop heavy None of Dem, which came out in 2010, remixed with a Royksopp darker slant, but seemed unfamiliar to the crowd. In fact, the only song in which Royksopp participated that the crowd recognized was the Do It Again single released just a few months ago, which was largely derided by Royksopp fans (including myself) and music critics as being nothing more than a dance club remix with lyrics so simple they make The Black Eyed Peas’ “Monday Tuesday Thursday Friday Party Every Day” seem like the work of a lyrical genius. Judge for yourself:
Of course the young crowd ate it up.
Most of the concert we felt like we were parents chaperoning a 12 year old girl to a Justin Biber concert. I know that most people reading this blog (hi Aunt Lois!) are probably unfamiliar with Royksopp or Robyn… so let me put it in boomer terms: Imagine going to a concert featuring Led Zeppelin and Cyndi Lauper in 1985 and then realizing that every single person came to sing along to Girls Just Want to Have Fun and uses Stairway to Heaven as a good time to go grab another beer. Meanwhile, you’ve waited ten years to hear Immigrant Song live, but you can’t hear Robert Plant over the kids behind you talking about how hot Tony Danza was on last week’s episode of Who’s the Boss?
“play Time After Time… PLAY TIME AFTER TIME!!!”