To close her sold-out show at the Novo in Los Angeles on Friday night, Swedish songstress Tove Lo sang “Habits (Stay High),” the sexy, drug-laced anthem that put her on the map back in 2014. Three years and two albums later, it’s still this song that best encapsulates her particular brand of pop: a heady mixture of love as drugs and drugs as love over moody, throbbing, danceable beats.
Once she hit the stage in a tight-cropped t-shirt and metallic pants that had “Lady Wood” – the title of her latest album – emblazoned across the butt, Tove Lo never stopped moving, dancing her way through a solid, crowd-pleasing set list. Hip thrusts, crotch grabs, and plenty of hair flipping accompanied “True Disaster,” “WTF Love Is” and “Not On Drugs,” with the audience eating up every bump and grind.
Things reached a fever-pitch halfway through with the fan favorite “Talking Body,” as Tove Lo slowly lifted up her shirt, singing “If we’re talking body / You’ve got a perfect one / So put it on me,” before finally flashing the crowd the whole shebang.
It was only for an outstanding solo version of “Imaginary Friend,” just Tove Lo and her keyboard, that she actually stood still, the power and nuance in her voice coming into focus. In person, the appealing huskiness in her voice reveals itself even more, and her vocals remained strong throughout, even with all that hip thrusting.
Not a huge talker, Tove Lo spent the most time addressing the audience before the islandy “Vibes,” explaining that she wrote it while on a boat in Nicaragua with her opening act, Phoebe Ryan, detailing their first meeting involved Jell-O shots that Ryan pulled out of her pocket.
With her songwriting, Tove Lo plays a distinct role. She’s the club kid, the wild one, the party girl with a lonely heart, whose unapologetic sexuality and frequent nights spent in dark clubs serve as both autonomous liberation, and less sexily, a form of self-destruction. With her live performance, her high-energy dance moves and posturing to the crowd make it more about party time, and less about the comedown. “Put your ... fingers in the air!” she yelled during “The Way That I Am,” reveling in the sea of hands that followed her command before launching into “Thousand Miles,”her most dynamic performance of the night.
After “Imaginary Friend,” Tove Lo briefly left the stage, returning with bare feet, and what can only be described as a black vinyl, hot-pants playsuit, in which she writhed around on the floor in during an earth-shaking rendition of “Keep It Simple” and the Gone Girl slink of “Cool Girl.” She left the stage again, and returned in a disco-ball raincoat to perform “What I Want For The Night (Bitches),” a track rumored to be on the follow up to “Lady Wood,” due out this spring. It’s got a catchy, easy groove, lyrics dripping with sex, and coupled with the way Tove Lo was lying on her back with her legs up in the air, it signaled that this is one party girl that probably isn’t ready to hang it up any time soon.
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