Tove Lo | Credit: Kenny Laubbacher

Tove Lo, one of Sweden’s finest pop exports, played the last leg of her Dirt Femme Tour this past Tuesday. Best known for her breakout hit “Habits” in 2014, she’s carved a lane of moody tunes that chronicle topics with a specific, and unique, perspective. In “Habits,” the intro says, “I eat my dinner in my bathtub, Then I go to sex clubs.” Lo’s lyrics cover sex, drugs, and more sex, but in a way that is straight to the point and not glamorous at all. Her depictions of these topics are often fueled with the frustration that comes with them, the moment after when you feel like you’re withering away, or, as I like to call them, “bathroom floor moments.” Somehow, she makes you feel her pain without sacrificing catchy, infectious pop hooks.

Lo walks out after the rest of her band sets up, and starts the night with “Pineapple Slice.” Concertgoers cheer with delight when she enters, and scream along with every word. In front of a three-piece band, Lo donned a futuristic look, complete with a shiny bodysuit and metallic shoulder pads. Lo also sported a long, rope-like ponytail that flew through the air as she spun it to the beat of the song, tethering the energy of the crowd into her orbit. Highlights include “disco tits,” “Talking Body,” and “True Disaster.” Surprisingly, the song that generated the most sing-alongs was “Cool Girl,” which was the lead single off of Lo’s sophomore LP Lady Wood, which didn’t quite live up to the massive success of her debut release Queen of the Clouds.

Something fascinating about Lo, and the reason why I became a deeper fan later in her career, is that she got big very early … and then her music became less mainstream. The songs got darker, the dialogue became more frank. In “Suburbia,” Lo talks about how, once she got married, she realized she didn’t want to be bored and relegated to “routines and lies.” Funnily enough, she then invited her spouse to the front of the stage to kiss her in front of the crowd for a photo.

Lo shows another side of her songwriting in “Glad He’s Gone,” a personal favorite, appearing halfway through the set. Lo asks, “did you give in to his ego? Just to give a little confidence…” then proceeds to lament “no tears for that sucker. Only one dick, that’s a bummer,” mixing paranoid vulnerability with humor. Her ability to take you through a plethora of emotions in the show from every angle, from horniness to boredom to pain, is a testament to her writing skills. It’s also a trait that often gets discredited in female acts who sing about more sexually explicit subjects, and one that Lo should be getting a lot more commercial credit for.

Lo starts to get emotional and shares how bittersweet it is that it’s the last show of the tour, and how The Observatory (in Santa Ana) means a lot to her. She says that she played it on her Queen of the Clouds tour, and performed the first live songs from Dirt Femme at the venue.

As Lo looks into the crowd of beaming fans during the encore song “Habits,” they sing so loudly that Lo just ends up thrusting her microphone into the crowd. She’s beaming, surely getting taken back to her first tour. Nearly a decade later, the same numbers of fans still show up to chase the feeling her music gives them.


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