SYN Reviews: Tove Styrke
Photos and words by Jack Hollenberg.
Before Tove Styrke could get two songs into her set last Thursday at Howler, she took an unplanned break to quickly sign autographs, shake hands and personally thank fans in the front row. Being the first Australian tour of her career, this was the first of many opportunities she took to show her appreciation. “I feel like such a stupid Swede, thank you thank you thank you! I’m as far from home as I could come and I feel so at home right now,” she said later in the show.
Styrke did not come this far from home to muck around; dropping two of her biggest hits ‘Say My Name’ and ‘Mistakes’ early in the set. The modest crowd made up for its size with raucous energy and uninhibited singalongs, knowing every word and moving to the beat. Most recent single ‘On The Low’ followed, beginning as a quiet, intimate moment before building into an emotional bop as it grew louder with more synths and vocal ad libs.
Styrke just wrapped up a North American tour supporting Lorde, and she gave this intimate club gig the same energy you would expect in the arenas she has become used to. With her two-piece band (dressed stylishly in black custom-made “Tove Styrke” boilersuits) pushed to the sides of the stage, Styrke used every inch of the space that was left to dance and revel in her pop perfection. Styrke was aided by a backing track for most of the performance and combined with her scientific approach to crafting pop songs, this resulted in a somewhat predictable, contrived show, however it was executed so well that this rarely detracted from the fun.
A highlight of the set was a cover of Lorde’s ‘Liability’ from her 2017 album ‘Melodrama’. Styrke risked losing the intimacy and raw emotion of the track, which was originally a piano-ballad, by giving it a synth-pop makeover. Instead she added another layer of depth, turning it into a Robyn-esque cathartic belter. It is a song you can dance or cry to, and some audience members probably did both as we sang “I’m a liability … I’m a little much for everyone” together in unison.
The set ended with 2015 ballad ‘Ego’, in which Styrke gave a breathtaking vocal performance, however the distracted audience began to get chatty and rowdy, ruining the touching moment. We were drawn right back in when she returned for encore ‘Even If I’m Loud Doesn’t Mean I’m Talking To You’, leaving everything she had left on the stage for the most unhinged and energetic song of the night. Combining strobe lights, a bass-heavy beat and bratty cheerleader vocals, it was the perfect high to end the night on.