Last night at Webster Hall, Holychild and MØ served up some serious chick power. Admittedly, I was in that funny position of knowing the opening act better than the headlining one. I had recently discovered Holychild 13-year-old girl style – while shopping in Forever 21. I know, I know. But something about the polished, cotton candy pop had grabbed me.
As Holychild took the stage, the sparkly streamers taped to their instruments looked a little wilted, like a Christmas tree after New Years. Lead singer Liz Nistico was decked out in an outfit that could have easily been a Britney Spears hand-me-down: a scanty bedazzled bra and an Adidas tracksuit, with fluffy pom-poms braided into her hair. They sounded pretty good, and she kept the energy high with a frenzy of provocative dancing.
The only thing is, it seemed almost like she was out of breath early into the show. She sounded a little pitchy on “Pretend Believe,” and flat out exhausted by the time they reached their most popular song “Happy With Me.” Over-sexing the vocals became Nistico’s crutch, especially when they covered “Are You That Somebody” by Aaliyah. That song is sexy because of its precision, not because every line ends with a seductive whimper. But they are still very new, so I’m sure nerves are a factor. Holychild’s setlist included: “Diamonds on the Rebound,” “Playboy Girl,” “Pretend Believe,” “Running Behind,” “Bombada,” “Are You That Somebody (Aaliyah cover),” “Plastered Smile,” and “Happy With Me.”
I came into MØ’s show not knowing much about her. Which is fitting, because besides being lead singer Karen Marie Ørsted’s initials, MØ means “maiden” or “virgin” in Danish. It didn’t take me long to see why the show had sold out. This chick can sing.
MØ absolutely commanded the crowd with mind-blowing vocals and an undying commitment to her performance. It was clear that she was focused more on the music than anything else, as she ditched platform heels for men’s socks and gradually reduced her supply of athletic wear. She occasionally dumped bottles of water over her trademark top-of-the-head bun, showering beneath them not to be sexual, but out of survival. She was absolutely killing it.
MØ’s setlist included: “Maiden,” “Fire Rides,” “XXX 88,” “The Sea,” “Slow Love,” “Pilgrim,” “Dust is Gone,” “Freedom #1,” “Red in the Grey,” “Waste of Time,” “Never Wanna Know,” “Walk This Way,” and “Glass,” with an encore of “Say You’ll Be There,” and “Don’t Wanna Dance.”
The performance featured some of the best video I’ve seen, with a spooky explosion of black and white media that ranged from old cartoons to a grizzly bear playing a trumpet to mossy, underwater footage of the Titanic. But most notably, MØ was not afraid to take full advantage of the space. Forgoing the usual security-flanked stage dives, she hopped right into the sea of fans and casually walked all the way across the floor. She even raced up the stairs mid-song so she could take advantage of the balconies, climbing and balancing on just about every surface without ever missing a beat. It was like Cirque du Soleil for punky indie pop. You go girl.