This past Fall, Grammy-nominated Swedish pop star, Tove Lo released her fourth album, Sunshine Kitty. The follow-up to 2017’s Blue Lips, found Tove venturing from the dark sonic nightclub vibes of her previous three albums, and moving into a sunnier soundscape. With Sunshine Kitty, riding a wave of favorable reviews, Tove Lo has hit the road on a North American tour with support from Broods and Sunshine Kitty collaborator, ALMA. We caught the show 3 dates in, on a stormy night at the Ritz in Raleigh.
Late in the afternoon on Thursday February 6th a line of severe storms pushed through the Raleigh area, leaving trees down and power out for thousands. Despite the rough weather and continued heavy rain, Tove Lo made it to the Ritz and rewarded her fans, who likewise defied the rain, with a “storming” performance.
With arriving fans slowed by the rain, the crowd was still filling in as up-and-coming Finish pop star ALMA took the stage to kick off the evening. Emerging from the darkness, it’s ALMA’s neon yellow hair and black punk-style jacket that grabs the attention. But once she starts singing, it’s her powerful voice, underpinned by infectious hooks and dance-pop beats, that creates a lingering impression. Despite some technical difficulties a few songs into her set that saw her leave the stage for a short impromptu break, the building crowd was enamored with her swaggering and charismatic performance, cheering louder with each subsequent song. ALMA’s powerhouse pop was infectious, and based on the crowd response, its easy to see why she is getting the mainstream attention she deserves.
With the Ritz now fully packed, the crowd was getting anxious as the stage was prepped for Tove Lo. The lights dropped and the audience started roaring in anticipation. The recorded intro of “Gritty Pritty” cranked the energy up even further as the three members of Tove’s touring band took their places on risers flanking the stage. Then as Tove made her way to the front of the stage and kicked into “Glad He’s Gone”, the crowd exploded. With each song, Tove bounced around the stage illuminated by an impressive lighting display anchored around a semicircle screen at the back. New songs like “Bad As The Boys” and “Jacques” fit seamlessly alongside fan favorites like “Cool Girl”, “Talking Body”, and “Disco Tits”. As the set proceeded, Tove seemed to lose herself in her performance. Glistening with sweat, her dancing oozed a sex-fueled charisma culminating in what has become a bit of a tradition at her shows, lifting her shirt to expose her breasts, a move that felt more freeing and empowering than exploitive.
While her sensual moves caught the eye, it was her solid and striking vocals that truly impressed. Tove sounded clean and clear live. She absolutely nailed every nuance from emotional ballads to big club anthems. Through it all her fans showered her with adoration, cheering at a frenzied level that managed to find an even higher gear when ALMA came out to join Tove late in the set for a wild version of “Bitches”. By the time the set ended with a 3 song encore that included her breakthrough hit “Habits (Stay High)”, it was uncertain what had a bigger impact on the audience who made it to the Ritz, the severe weather, or Tove Lo’s energetic and utterly compelling performance.