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Review Mon Aug 25 2014
There's been a lot of hype over Robyn and Röyksopp's summer tour, but Robyn could tour with anyone and it'd draw well. It's only been a couple years since the doyenne of Swedish pop has played Chicago, though it's been a while longer since the Norwegian electronic duo's played here - at Metro in 2005. Unfortunately, the setup of a co-headlining show plus collaboration led to abbreviated sets from both acts. But what's important, quantity or quality?
Röyksopp's Svein Berge and Torbjørn Brundtland walked out to a nice reception, dressed in neon chemical suits. The rest of the band was wisely decked out more appropriately for the humid weather during their 40-minute set. They reeled off a smattering of the band's singles and had a dazzling laser show through tunes that went from bouncy fun electro-pop ("Happy Up Here") to more serious techno ("Poor Leno"). To many in the crowd, it was just dance music and a warmup. But to fans, it was a good showcase of their broad talents after many years away.
Minutes after they were done, Robyn walked out to an eruption of applause. As always, her attire was outstanding - a soccer jersey, short shorts, thigh-high boots and an orange hoodie. Much of Robyn's music reaches back to early disco, with songs about heartbreak, identity and hope masked underneath pulsing beats and earworming rhythms. A lot of it's not exactly what you lovingly sing to your significant other, but instead the words you might mouth to the hottest person at a club or the one who got away. And, to that, it's important that the lyrics don't change when the musical arrangements are flipped. (How sick she must be of singing "Dancing On My Own" the same way every night for years now. The added dramatic pause let her cut at least one repeated chorus.) But through the changes ("Stars 4-Ever" with a late-era Motown vibe, "Call Your Girlfriend" getting the cheesy 80s treatment, etc.) she never let up on the energy. Although, it may be notable that she seemed brightest on the three new songs, especially the glitzy standout "Set Me Free." And, whether intentional or not, it was her oldest songs that sounded closest on Sunday to how they do recorded.
After a quick wardrobe change, Robyn and Röyksopp returned in silver masks for their collaborative set. Their Do It Again EP is generally more abstract than their most popular output and it didn't connect with the crowd, which led to a small exodus, especially during "Monument" when Robyn spent most of the song lying down. It's minimal, so more of a slow burn than the fist-pumping anthems that dominated the evening, but even those came back with the hypnotic "Do It Again" and 2009's "The Girl and the Robot" keeping people awake and reconsidering their choice to leave early. So was it the best show ever? No. But was it super fun and worth a few missteps? Absolutely.