Dark banners emblazoned with “MØ MØ MØ” were draped in front of the Paradise’s signature red velvet backdrop. The predominantly young audience spread towards the farthest edges of the dance floor, swaying side-to-side as opener, Grace Mitchell, warmed the audience on a cool December evening. Blending concise lyrics with intertwining electronic and guitar lines, Mitchell embraced her first Boston show and set the tone for the intense performance to follow. On “Broken Over You,” Mitchell restrained anger over a lilting bass line and interspersed the track with the fierce moments of expression that MØ would capitalize on throughout her dynamic set.
MØ, Karen Marie Ørsted, entered where Mitchell left off, standing just out of her fans’ reach in a fur-lined vest and tight black choker. Nodding with the sold-out crowd to a pulsing bass note and swelling synth, Ørsted enticed her audience, pulling them closer with each movement. Augmented by her new aura of fame, MØ demonstrated her superior crowd control from the outset. Releasing a brash chorus of synthesized horns on a bolstered rendition of “Don’t Wanna Dance,” MØ fueled the crowd’s dancing and breathed life into one of the standout tracks from her lauded debut LP No Mythologies to Follow. Flanked by a drummer, guitarist, and keyboardist, she basked in a wall of textured sound that imparted a signature abrasiveness few pop artists today possess.
MØ’s recent ascent to pop fame in part stems from her high-profile Major Lazer collaborations, but it is her firm integration of punk-influenced instrumentation, ringing pop melodies, and distinct vocals that sets her apart. Moving into “Waste of Time,” MØ swayed, jolted, and fell into the crowd, eschewing the Paradise’s slim crowd barrier and opting for the crowd’s embrace. MØ continued this caustic movement and explosiveness even on newer, glistening tracks, like the Diplo-produced anthem, “Kamikaze.” Swaying to a looping synth line, MØ danced further into this pop-realm, reveling in the exuberant, Snapchatting audience and pushing the pop veneer of her newer tracks to the fore.
Receding into the stage, MØ became vulnerable. Repeating “I will always, I will always,” she stared into her eye-level audience, letting her voice crack above the swelling synthesized bass. The respite was brief and her new hook-laden track, “All I Do,” quickly followed. Destined for the charts upon release, “All I Do,” resembles a biting version of the tropical house and dancehall that permeates the charts and eschews the guitar lines that mark No Mythologies to Follow.
Ørsted shines on the fringe of pop-stardom and takes advantage of the liminal space mid-sized venues create; somewhere between local dive bars and vast arena shows. “I am really sorry but Justin Bieber is not coming,” she noted before performing a quiet, acoustic rendition of “Cold Water” above the crowd’s roar.
Even the encore mirrored the intimacy and immediacy of the evening as MØ quickly launched back onto the stage. “I don’t have any Christmas songs,” she remarked, before a reticent performance of “New Year’s Eve.” Closing with “Lean On,” MØ fell back into her audience and accepted a final embrace of her pop to come.
- Execution and audience control
- Compelling live band
- Some overreliance on prerecorded vocals