Better Than: Whatever the hell I was doing at 16.
Lorde has a darkness about her. Around 9:30 p.m, she slinked on a fairly dark stage that never let itself become much more brightly lit than moments of off-center spotlight grazing her dancing along to the beats of her songs. In all black herself, Lorde’s stage presence is as much an antithesis to pop as her lyrics are. But beneath her Wednesday Addams exterior and pouting lyrics that serve as the linguistic equivalent of giving a one shoulder shrug, the rapidly rising New Zealand native is beginning to cast a pop star mold for herself that’s as refreshingly moody as it is addicting.
In her contrarian pop way, Lorde is still very obviously cultivating her own presence on stage. It’s charming and relatable the way she moves to her own tunes by jerkingly hunching her body over her microphone in time to the drums while her fingers pet the air in front of her like a cat. She looks natural, unchoreographed, and less apathetic than her music would make one assume. Much like her audience, Lorde couldn’t help but get lost in the lush beats and sound of her debut album Pure Heroine. Its songs sound even more captivating live.
With only the new album and a short EP The Love Club under her belt, Lorde’s setlist was understandably short. Beginning with “Bravado,” a gothic electro-pop ballad from her EP, she sang how she wants “the applause, the approval” before becoming the hearty recipient of both from the packed audience. The repetitive but hauntingly doom-beat driven “Biting Down” followed and brought out the debut of her most intense incarnation of her clawing and hunching drum dance.
Single “Tennis Court” arrived early in the set and delivered the night’s sweetest moment when the audience warmly and enthusiastically cheered right after Lorde sang “pretty soon I’ll be getting on my first plane.” The applause felt sincere as the singer continued on without missing a note. Even sweeter was her crooning, swooning cover of The Replacements’ “Swingin Party” which gave her an opportunity to really show off her rich voice in all its glory. The Replacements weren’t the only artist Lorde covered during the night, however, and her version of “Hold My Liquor” from Kanye West’s summer smash Yeezus was a particular delight as it slipped in and out of her setlist with a surprising amount of ease.
Naturally, before the night ended, Lorde had to include “Royals.” Being the opposition to modern pop luxury, hence her reign on the Alternative Charts, she chose to not make her biggest song the bookend to her concert and completely skipped an encore despite the crowd lingering for an abnormal amount of post-concert time. Non-closer “Royals” elicited a massive sing-a-long without Lorde having to do the gimmicky microphone-towards-the-audience trick. Afterwards, she blazed through her final tracks, including a glimmering performance of “A World Alone” at the end. With that, Lorde left the stage as mysteriously as she entered it before allowing the set to be illuminated brighter than it had been all evening.
Critical Bias: I’m a fan of teens doin’ big things because go teens.
Random Notebook Dump: Rumor has it that Perez Hilton was at the show, but since I did not see him or get to Snapchat a picture of him with crude drawings all over it to my friends, I’m guessing he actually wasn’t there.
Overheard: “She’s an interesting young adult.”
Lorde’s second show at Webster Hall is tonight, 10/1. She then plays Warsaw in Brooklyn on 10/3.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 1, 2013