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Over the past few years, Ellinor Olovsdotter, who performs under the name Elliphant, has released a string of EPs that have dipped into a number of different genres, from her dancehall-spiked debut EP, Elliphant, to last year’s Diplo- and Skrillex-starring Look Like You Love It and the more subdued One More. While her free-spirited embrace of varying musical styles keeps her output interesting, it can, at the same time, feel unsatisfying, as if we will never really get to know what this Swede with the slightly suspect Jamaican-influenced delivery is all about. Is the genre-hopping the sign of an artist searching for her voice? Or is her mission to stand out in an already strong Swedish electro-pop field? After all, we’ve already got Robyn’s dips into dancehall, Avicii’s sick drops, and Tove Lo’s warts-and-all lyricism (one of Elliphant’s most memorable opening lines is “We are waking up in a pile of shit” on “Down on Life”).
Last night’s sold-out show at Santos Party House — the first we’ve seen of her since she opened for Charli XCX on her North American tour late last year — might have offered a glimpse of Elliphant’s direction for when she finally releases a full-length album later this year. Instead, her set ran through all of her big tracks from her EPs. There were certainly no complaints from the packed audience. From overheard conversations, it seems her eclecticism is a strong part of her appeal.
Following a storming set from Nashville-based Five Knives — who won over the young crowd with both their blistering electro-rock and supply of free glowsticks — Elliphant burst onto the stage looking not unlike Gwen Stefani circa 1996. The comparison holds, too, for the reggae-tinged track she kicked off with: “Look Like You Love It.”
Whether she was addressing the crowd as her “bitches,” screaming “Fuck yeah!” or using one of the aforementioned glowsticks as a lewd prop, the crowd lapped up every moment of Elliphant’s energetic set, peaking with the frenzied Skrillex collaboration “Only Getting Younger.” Much of Elliphant’s work has leaned heavily on the contributions of collaborators: from Skrillex to Major Lazer, Deja Cat, and reggae artist Ras Fraser Jr. Onstage by herself (save for the DJ/hype man at the back), she handled those collab-heavy cuts just fine. For “One More,” possibly her best track to date, she requested the audience to sing Danish artist Mø’s lines, and they happily obliged. Delivered toward the end of a loud, raucous set, the laid-back “One More” revealed itself as a rather sweet affirmation of female friendship, in which one friend pleads with another to please stay for just one more drink.
Finally, sweat-soaked and with mascara running down her cheeks, Elliphant hauled a sizable portion of the audience — including, pleasingly, Tove Lo — up onstage to dance to her finale. Elliphant brought the party to Santos Party House. We’ll just have to wait awhile longer to get to know our host a little better.