Tove Lo may be Swedish, but she’s no stranger to American traditions. Pausing in between songs Sunday night (February 19) at the House of Blues, she asked the crowd about the upcoming Monday holiday called Presidents Day.
“Not that we need to celebrate him, but… anyways,” Tove Lo remarked, before getting right to it. “Trump is not my favorite person.”
Add Ebba Tove Elsa Nilsson to the list of celebs who are making 2017 one of the most politically charged years in pop culture to date.
This should come, however, as no surprise, as Tove Lo has never been known for subtlety. In the three quick years since her debut album Queen of the Clouds, her explicit lyrics and “take it or leave it” mentality has become her entire brand. In her new era for 2016 LP Lady Wood, she takes it all a step further by slapping her new icon — an intricate “O” that clearly represents a vagina — on every CD, sweatshirt, and piece of merchandise she has. Stepping onstage in Boston rocking sweatpants with the album’s name written across her bottom, she is as unabashed as ever.
With the suggestive emblem emblazoned into the backdrop of the House of Blues, all spotlights on her in a glittery disco ball jacket, Tove Lo is Our Lady of Lady Wood, patron saint of confidence.
Later she sways in a constant striptease wearing a barely-there latex bodysuit, uttering the lyrics to “Cool Girl,” her single about struggling to maintain romantic relationships without labels, the ultimate 21st century dating dilemma. She’s flawed and she knows it — she basks in her mistakes and tells you the nitty-gritty details of her literal and figurative highs n’ lows. Up until Lady Wood, Tove Lo had succinctly summed up her entire persona with a quip from “Moments”: “I am charming as fuck.” In reality, as her opener Phoebe Ryan told Vanyaland last week, the foundation of Tove Lo’s identity is pure confidence, a trait she glows with onstage when she practices the art of seduction in public.
After an artist releases their sophomore album, there are a lot of ways that they can cheap out on tour. Overplaying the new album with little recognition of the debut hits and cutting shows too short despite their now-longer catalogue are both telltale signs of an upcoming sophomore slump. Tove Lo appeased though with a balance of her two albums, and while her set was definitely Lady Wood-heavy, she never forgot to mention where she came from.
“I kind of came out of nowhere with ‘Habits,” she told the House of Blues, prepping her keyboard to play “Imaginary Friends,” a mellow tune referencing her nay-sayers and self-doubt, perhaps the only sobering moment of the entire show.
Her new material offers plenty of added insight to her self-professed faults, like “Flashes” (“When I fuck things up in front of camera flashes/What about you?”) and “Influence” (“You know I’m under the influence/So don’t trust anything I say”). Her confessions from Queen of the Clouds — “Not on Drugs” and “Talking Body” — rehashed the juicy details from her major debut in pop.
The sweetest moment, however, came when Tove dug out “What I Want for the Night (Bitches)”, a song that thus far only appears in her Fairy Dust music film, for the encore. And while she didn’t flash the crowd like she did at Boston Calling in May 2015, an honest rendition of “Habits” will always suffice.
Tove Lo photos by Victoria Wasylak. Follow her on Twitter @VickiWasylak.