For the final U.S. show of her Sunshine Kitty tour, Tove Lo welcomed a few special guests to the stage, most of whom were awesome and one of which was not. That’d be the knee-high boot encasing the Swedish pop star’s right leg: her constant companion ever since an injury during a show in February.
“My foot is broken, but my spirit is not!” Tove proclaimed by way of introduction at L.A.’s The Palladium on Friday night (February 28). The sold-out crowd — which included Billie Eilish and Finneas watching from the balcony, and throngs of glittered-out fans resembling Euphoria extras — cheered in response and obliged the unsaid but understood agreement that if Tove can’t dance her ass off onstage, they’re going to have to work extra hard for her.
Unsurprisingly, that’s exactly what they did, thanks to a setlist that practically transformed the theater into a Eurodance club. The hour-plus set kicked off with “Glad He’s Gone” before opening act Alma joined Tove for “Bad As the Boys.” The already-toasty building simmered as Tove slinked along to “Cool Girl” and “Talking Body,” and she managed to twerk during “Are U Gonna Tell Her,” broken foot be damned. She even reminded us that she was ahead of pop’s recent disco renaissance — bolstered by the likes of Dua Lipa and Doja Cat — when she broke into the chilly throb of 2017’s “Disco Tits.”
Sunshine Kitty — Tove’s fourth album, released last year — marked her clubbiest record to date, but also showcased her most vulnerable writing. To that end, one of the most transcendent moments of the show came when Tove’s band retreated backstage, leaving the pop star standing solo behind a keyboard. The stage lights went dark and she humbly spoke to the crowd about confidence, self-doubt, and her journey as an artist thus far.
“You start writing songs in your bedroom and then you sell out the Palladium!” she marveled, before (misguidedly) admitting that she’s “not very good” at the keyboard. Cellphone lights illuminated the venue as she broke into a solo acoustic version of her 2015 single “Moments,” a song about embracing your flaws and eccentricities. “I love freaks, I don’t care if you’re a wild one,” she sang with the same conviction she did five years ago, but surrounded by more freaks and wild ones than she probably could’ve fathomed back then. Similarly affecting was the harsh post-party comedown of “Hey You Got Drugs?” and the romantic rawness of “Come Undone,” which she dedicated to her boyfriend.
The energy cranked back up once Alma returned to the stage alongside pop hero Charli XCX, who stomped around in studded platform boots while joining the girls for a pair of throwback faves: the 2017 posse cuts “Bitches” and “Out of My Head.” Their electric triple-threat performance was a jolting surprise that ended with a giggly group hug and elicited the biggest screams of the night.
But Tove still had some bangers up her fishnets — she ended the show with a one-two-three punch of Sunshine Kitty‘s “Sweettalk My Heart,” her 2014 breakout hit “Habits (Stay High),” and the recently released “Bikini Porn,” the best “Song of Summer 2020” contender released in January. And thus concluded a refreshingly rare kind of pop show: one that’s not rehearsed down to the sequin, instead reveling in the muddiness of broken bones, sweaty bodies, and unhinged dancing. On the Sunshine Kitty bop “Equally Lost,” Tove sang, “I see you looking, so I turn my charm on, hoping I look awesome.” We looked, she turned it on, and, yeah, she was awesome.