Concert Review: MØ in Vancouver

Danish electronic pop artist MØ stopped in Vancouver this weekend on tour for her debut album, No Mythologies To Follow. The album dropped in March 2014, but with the release of several dance singles over the last year, the house was full.

MØ –meaning “maiden” or “virgin” in Danish and pronounced “moo”—is Karen Marie Ørsted, a 25 year old singer-songwriter from Odense, Denmark. With a pink scrunchie securing a long braid to the top of her head and limbs that thrust, pumped and hit the beat, she looked like a Scandinavian Sporty Spice—fitting for the fame she garnered by covering the Spice Girls’ 1996 hit “Say You’ll Be There.”

Ørsted’s chops go far beyond a cover song that too easily grabs the attention of grown-up Spice Girls fans: the cascading electronica in MØ’s first release “Glass” and the telltale horn hook on her second single “Pilgrim” quickly caught the attention of Sony Music Entertainment and earned her a spot on their roster. And fun fact: Ørsted was a co-writer and featured vocals on Avicii’s song “Dear Boy” from his album, True.

Still, I went to the show hoping I wouldn’t be underwhelmed. I worried that Ørsted’s voice flounder without production and that an overworked synth would try to pin the outfit to the coattails of other girl electro-pop acts like Grimes and Lana Del Rey.

MØ spent no time dismissing my doubts, thrashing onto stage and launching into a set that hardly faltered. Ørsted’svocals floated easily sultry on album’s title track, to anthemic for the beat heavy song “XXX 88” that features Diplo.

As if MØ’s forceful dancing and braid-whipping weren’t entertainment enough, she strode straight through the crowd during “Never Wanna Know” to hop atop the side bar, and to stage dive mid-chorus during “Glass.”

The set flipped easily from fuzzed out guitar pulls and percussive snaps on “Waste of Time” to sugary chorus pop for “Never Wanna Know,” all backed by black and white images thrown erratically up on the backdrop screen.

Ørsted talks about her musical influences in terms of age groups: Spice Girls in her childhood, punk throughout her teenage years and hip hop/rap in her twenties. Nowhere are these influences more apparent than during MØ’s live shows. Looping vocals that draw the Lana Del Rey comparisons combine with heavy guitar licks and wrenching beats, all pushing the concert closer to rock than it does pop.

During the encore, MØ likely broke a record for most males dancing to Spice Girls in Vancouver for her cover song, and closed the set with “Don’t Wanna Dance.” The dance single was so much more hard hitting than the recording, I’m not sure I can listen to the track without wishing for the live band.

Overall, this is the sentiment I came away with from the show: MØ’s genre-layered dance pop tracks are a solid listen, but it’s her meaty live set where Ørsted absolutely demands your attention and refuses to let it go without first wrangling your pansy alt-pop expectations and throwing them aside.

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