There really wasn’t much else for Robyn to do midway through her spirited, sweaty and downright sexy show on Wednesday (July 28) night at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York, so she decided to pull on a beret and eat a banana.
Of course, she did it at a languid, luxurious pace, deliberately peeling the thing, holding it aloft, taking it one bite at a time. It was worth noting, because it was about the only time she wasn’t bounding around the stage during her set, an hour-plus of arm-whipping, hip-popping robo-pop. And though it sounds sort of strange, it was only about the fifth-oddest moment of the night: After her 23rd-century, flashing-lights entrance, her ram-jam duet with Kelis (who co-headlined), the fact that one of her keyboardists was a dead-ringer for mid-70s-era Benny Andersson and her odd decision to not play stupendous new single “Hang With Me.”
Yes, Robyn certainly knows how to put on a show. She’s unquestionably the oddest pop star on a major label (her songs are stranger than Lady Gaga’s, and her brand of DIY showmanship leaves Ke$ha’s machinations in the dust), a towheaded Swedish import who can be gleefully raunchy one minute and delightfully innocent the next. Her songs are about sex and dancing and falling helplessly in (and out of) love, and it’s darn-near impossible to figure out why she’s not much, much bigger here in the States. There’s no reason why she shouldn’t be as big as Gaga at this point, and if you don’t believe me, ask her legions of fans who packed the Music Hall, singing along to every line and dancing like there was no tomorrow.
Songs like “Fembot” (with which she opened) and “Don’t F–king Tell Me What To Do” (which is where she chose to eat that banana) rattled and pumped along with clubby, piston-like precision, “Dancehall Queen” jerked it out on a dubby lilt, and “Dancing On My Own” got huge with a life-affirming, salvation-on-the-dancefloor thump. All of those songs are on her new Body Talk, Pt. 1 album, the first of three she plans on releasing this year (she’s nothing if not proficient), and they were highlights, but her older tunes — “Konichiwa Bitches,” “Who’s That Girl” and “With Every Heartbeat” — positively burned the house down, each building higher and higher, each greeted with whoops of joy from the masses.
And by the time she brought Kelis (who, it should be noted, tore it up in her own set, all flash and dash and killer attitude) back on stage during the finale for a medley of songs that included Kel’s “Caught Out There” and a cover of Neneh Cherry’s “Buffalo Stance,” Robyn was bathed in sweat (so much so that, as she noted, “My eyelashes are coming off”), but still bounding about, still smiling and laughing, still ready for more. So she stretched her encore for another 20-something minutes. Which was only further proof that she’s not just the oddest, most fantastical bird in the pop world, but one of the hardest-working, too. Shoot, Gaga may do two-plus hours, but she’s never eaten a banana on stage.