***Editor’s Note: One of our first partnerships with Jeremy “Jacques” Hinks was also our first time learning more about Tove Styrke in the post Tove Styrke Steps Out On Her Own Tour With ‘Sway’
Since then, we’ve been a fan of both. In his newest installment for Instinct Magazine, Hinks shares more about Styrke, but instead from an interviewer/interviewee relationship, it is the concert goer / ultimate performer as he attends one of Tove Styrke’s concerts from her “Sway” Tour, held in Salt Lake City at Club Sound on October 13th, 2018.
Jeremy’s coverage of Tove’s concert is truly personal as he constructs the scene and adds the emotions to what he has shared with us below.
“All I want is a White Light Moment”
I had seriously high hopes and high expectations for this show. In fact, I had not been this excited for a gig in quite a while. I had packed up my gear, had some things I wanted to get signed, and had my settings dialed in to shoot, as I had shot at this venue a few times prior.
Once the doors opened, I saw that they had not lined up the performance in the “Venue” side, but in the “Club Sound” side, a smaller stage adjacent to the main bar. Somewhat of a disappointment, even more, it was odd, they were remodeling both sides, and thus, they had no house lights, just a few hanging from a single rack above the stage.
One of the stage crew told me they had actually brought some of the PA system from the main room into this one. I knew it was going to be loud. All this kind of shot my expectations because no one could really see anything. I had heard the opening act, AU/RA, doing her sound check outside, and it was pounding even outside, and so, no surprise as to why. AU/RA had taken the stage, a young trippy woman, with a guitarist on stage also manning a keyboard, and she rocked it. Her review is coming later, just know, you have to get into this girl.
And now it was time for Tove Styrke to take the stage.
The stage had no real overhead lights, only rows of electronic lights on the floor looking like roses, that apparently could change color, ok, this is going to be different.
The house went pitch black, and as an intro like when a hero entered an old style western film played, the band took their positions at their keyboards. A little flashlight on the side of the stage guided the soon to be exalted Tove Styrke to the mic. She came up to the mic wearing a black leather outfit, a short skirt, and a cowboy hat with her name on it in sequined letters. Here goes I thought. We are in for quite a show. With the hall being little more than a stage, no lights, and a large support beam in the middle of the stage, this was going to be anything but normal. We were either going to be in for something extraordinary, or a flop of an event.
During our interview, I had told her I was dying to hear my favorite song, “Borderline”, which she happily opened with. The house erupted, and the sound pounded through all of us dancing on the floor. Apparently, when they moved all the larger hall PA system into this side of the venue, they placed everything to fit acoustically. A 15k watt sound system in a hall that would normally be fine with 2k watts. It was loud, and absolutely PERFECT.
Her performance reminded me of early Erasure as she danced around in white sneakers, singing into a mic wrapped with wedding veil lace and flowers, like on the album cover, changing color instead of the stage lights. This was going to be a great show, as she delivered a fun, flamboyant, in your face dancing performance matched with great vocals and music that had the entire hall dancing in sync.
A support beam was right in the middle of the stage, seriously interfering with being able to see her, and was quite a distraction, but she grabbed it with one hand and swung herself around it, making it part of her performance. Along with the theme of the wedding from the video for her song “Mistakes” and the flowers from the cover of the current album, she was making it all fit and fit very well.
She introduced herself “I’m Tove Styrke” and seemed to thank everyone for coming out pretty much during every break between songs, clearly having as much fun as the fans. She went into “Mistakes” which was the other song as I said in the interview, I was dying to hear. On the album recording, there’s a lyric where she says, “you make me want to ________ with you”, with that gap silent. I assumed that was for radio play, so I was wondering if she would fill in the gap during the concert. The song paused and went silent. She smiled letting everyone “assume” what it was, then kicked it up again. PRICELESS. She already had the audience eating out of her hand.
I had brought my daughter to this show. She was in front, clearly the youngest person there, and was loving every moment. My daughter had mixed “Mistakes” into one of her schools dance company’s performances, and was there for this song alone. On the stage, there was a large bouquet of roses, much like the ones in the video for “Mistakes” that she used to break the mirror. I saw no mirror on stage, so, no such luck in seeing her break it with them (though she does admit that she enjoys breaking glass).
With the lighting coming from the floor, it was surreal, almost like a darkened Goth band gig, with an incredibly melodic, beautiful, fun, pop star sound pushing forward with a Lady Gaga-esque flamboyance, mixed with the Go-Go’s and P!NK. There was something for everyone this evening as she made sure to talk to everyone from the stage, asking for input, and having everyone sing along when she asked. She played “Ego”, another song that had caused me to fall for her work, then she sang “On a Level”.
Suddenly it became dark and very intense singing “Liability”, paying tribute to Lorde with whom she had just finished a tour. You felt it was almost her being totally introspective and it was HER song.
She had a choir in the audience to sing along with her on “I Lied”, all the way down to when she finished the better part of her recent catalog.
She thanked all of us, taunting everyone to keep dancing with her, challenging us to get more involved, it was almost intoxicating.
During “Endless” and while we were standing in the photo area, her tour manager saw my daughter dancing and filming with her phone, and asked me if my daughter was a big fan (he had talked to us both prior to the gig). I had to explain that there are two camps in our house, the “Kiddo” and “Sway” camps. He laughed obviously able to see who was in which.
She said out to the audience, “You guys are really the sweetest group we have played to on this tour!” as she showing how much she appreciated us, making the symbol of a heart with her hands over her head, blew kisses, and made a fist and tapped her chest.
She asked us all to sing along with her on “Say My Name” and we did, and did well, over the pounding sound system, trying to out do the extra 13k we were getting from the PA system. It was really incredible, no words can describe how wonderful this was.
As she finished with “Say My Name”, she was hugging and shaking hands with everyone in the audience. Then she announced “This is the one, I’m sure you are all waiting to hear” and she went to the back of the stage, took an exaggerated bow to everyone then launched into “Sway” with everyone else, singing together with her, in tune (yes we were all in key, she can pull that off with a chorus of a few hundred fans even).
When she hit the last part of “Sway”, with the crescendo building to the instrumental, everyone was waving their arms in sync with her from left to right, she clearly had everyone on the same vibe of singing and dancing. A definite crowd pleaser, Tove feeds off the audience, creating a feeling everyone shares, her talent builds upon the energy of the fans, and she knows how to give back. By the end of the night, that bond had grown, and everyone was feeling it.
She bowed, thanked everyone and left the stage for a few minutes out the side, actually outside the venue, standing in the cold.
Since there was no light in the club, the stage hand, her manager, and I all turned our flashlights on so she could see the steps as she came back for her encore.
Tove was welcomed back to the stage, finishing off the show with “Been There Done That”, an NOTD cover, and then “Number One” from Kiddo. Her final gift from the show was the bouquet of roses that was on the stage, (real ones, not the lighting) and she threw them out one by one to the audience. Clearly she enjoys connecting with her fans, there was no “wall of separation” between her and the people dancing along with her. She asked everyone to stay for a while as she wanted to sign everything for anyone.
She came out a while later and took the time to meet every one of her fans that stayed, giving hugs, pose for photos, and autographing t-shirts and posters (I’m sure she made more in posters and shirt sales than in ticket sales, EVERYONE bought something). They had a vinyl print of the “Sway” album that was no longer for sale as they had sold out all of them on the tour. Being a vinyl collecting junkie I wanted THAT ONE, however, her merch sellers told me that they had been offered a hundred dollars for it, just to have her sign it. I would have happily paid for that to have her sign it.
She hugged me when I introduced myself in person, and thanked me for the interview. She was signing things for everyone, and dancing to the house music that was playing. We were holding desk lamps to illuminate the table, and pretty much anything else. It was great spending time hanging out with her band, speaking bad Danish sounding Swedish, and getting autographs.
Something I expected, as she told me has happened since she put out the video for “Sway”, several young gay men, and young girls hugged her, crying, telling her how much the video meant to them, saying they had experienced the same thing, and in that moment felt real love and acceptance from someone else, about who they really were. That was why she did it, and when someone told her this, she would say that it makes the world a little smaller and people are just that much more connected.
My expectations were in many ways not met, expecting the experience to be more like the videos on YouTube. This had nothing to do with her, or her production, for it was the venue that was lacking in many ways, which she more than made up for in her performance as she buried my expectations. She gave us so much it was surreal once it was all said and done. She had nothing for a venue and lighting, but she took over and delivered a show worthy to be presented to fans having seen her with Lorde or Katy Perry. Like Tove had said about the album, and how she was able to take a space of really nothing and fill it with so much, because there’s no real limit to what she could do. This show was clearly done that way.
For anyone who wanted to see her, no one could have gone home without a buzzing little smile about what they had experienced.
I had been on the floor for Lady Gaga last year, and, well, we were pushing a lot in that direction that night. My daughter had seen P!NK a few months earlier, and enlightened me to the fact that Tove had put on a much better show. I think that statement speaks for itself.
For everyone that wanted to see Tove Styrke live, and was not able to on this tour, you’ll have to wait until the next time rolls around. She was striking out on her own with this tour, finding her footprint in the states, building a fan base that will be much much larger next time you have the opportunity to see her. (You should probably take it, or you WILL regret missing her live show). When I interviewed her, she talked about how the Staples Center was the high point of her career, it might have been at that time, but she will be there again, not far in the future.
For me, “All I Want Now Is A White Light Moment”, but that is another story, or song. Lemme just say, it was a dark venue.
For more on Tove Styrke and some videos of her songs, check out the original post:
An indie GONZO music journalist in Salt Lake City, and an Anarchist behind the Zion Curtain. Jeremy Hinks is an obnoxious Type-A Male, who is embarrassingly straight and a staunch LGBTQ Ally with little tact, and a big heart. He has supported his LGBTQ friends since he was a teenager.
He has photographed on multiple tours U2, The English Beat, Peter Hook & The Light, and is somehow making a name for himself photographing Pink Floyd Tribute bands, The Australian Pink Floyd Show, Britfloyd, Dead Floyd. He is one of the photographers for the LOVELOUD Foundation in Utah, an organization to bring awareness and support for the young LGBT community in Utah, and to bring an end to the epidemic of suicides there.
He also drives a Vespa, and wears kilts, is rarely seen wearing pants, should be considered armed and dangerous, so do not approach without extreme caution.