By Jena Ardell
By Brian McManus
By Chaz Kangas
By Sound of the City
By Peter Gerstenzang
By Katherine Turman
By Chris Kornelis
By Brian McManus
Nilsson's immersive light projections might harken back to an age of '60s psychedelica, but anyone dosed at a Fever Ray show is destined for a stupendously bad trip (the sort that ends with images of a bunch of dogs lurking around a corpse-filled mansion, naturally). He veers between simple shapes and grand gestures. Live clips for "Keep the Streets Empty" showcase a pure minimalism: straight lines of neon ticking along to the beat like a kinetic Dan Flavin installation. "When I Grow Up" bathes the stage (and crowd) in a deep emerald blue; "Coconut" resembles nothing so much as an extraterrestrial rave.
"I wouldn't call it a multimedia experience—rather, a mass for a golden calf," Nilsson clarifies. And despite Andersson's oft-remarked tendency for shielding herself—behind masks, sunglasses, or smoke—Nilsson doesn't consider the stage show simply another way to remain unseen. "I don't think it's a matter of hiding. It's a theatrical play where we are creating characters that are more interesting to watch than a couple of [thirtysomething] Swedes."
Would Andersson ever consider playing Fever Ray songs unadorned—no lights, no projections, no multimedia tricks? "I think that would be totally meaningless," she says. "The reason for doing this music live is to add this extra visual aspect of it. We try to work with the whole room when we play—with visuals and, what you say, the smell of the room? And the sound, of course. The visual aspect of it is probably more important than the audio one." For the audio aspect, though, there's that four-piece, playing guitars, synthesizers, and . . . computers, plus an Argentinian-born percussionist adding "a depth that the album doesn't have."
So how would Andersson like audience members to feel after absorbing all this? "A little bit shaken," she replies, laughing. "Or sick. No . . . happy. Happy would be good. Happy and crying. That is my best way of experiencing shows: happy and crying."
Fever Ray play Webster Hall September 28 and 29