words + photos: Sarah Rix @sarahrix
“…she still approaches her live set like it’s in a sweaty garage rather than a polished nightclub.”
It was, perhaps, a smaller show for MØ than was initially anticipated. This owed to the move from the 1,700-cap Festival Hall to the half-sized 170 Russell. But, to her and the promoter’s credit, there was a whole lot going on in the city that night (MØ herself taking the time to note that two of the biggest pop stars in the world – Post Malone and Billie Eilish – were also in town), and, if anything, the comparatively cozy venue was an intimate way to enjoy the Danish hitmaker’s headlining debut in Melbourne.
American rapper Duckwrth opened the show, lifting up the energy from the get-go with a big stage, ever-present approach. Accompanied by a three-piece backing band, his take on breezy SoCal hip hop may have been an unexpected addition to MØ traditional take on electro-pop – but he was more than capable of winning over a crowd.
Through tracks like “I’M DEAD”, there were definite nods to peers like The Internet and Anderson .Paak, each equally gifted in their stage shows. “LOVE IS LIKE A MOSHPIT” from upcoming 2019 EP The Falling Man set the pace for the evening, Duckwrth following it up with more previews. Another from the EP – featuring downbeat rhymes a la Snoop Dogg, titled “KING KING” – was dedicated to the late Nipsey Hussle – “a true king in his community.”
If Duckwrth was expecting an audience of vacant faces for his opening set, he was pleasantly surprised by a request for a song off 2017’s an XTRA UUGLY Mixtape. The MØ fans seemed to have done their research – with a shout requesting “BUMMER / 2BUCKS” coming from the crowd.
“How do you know that?” Duckwrth asked with a grin. “Say that again!”
All in all, a highly entertaining opening set from a man there to warm up the crowd.
The night’s main draw, MØ, was just as present in her stage show. She’s an artist who knows how to play to the people standing in front of her – reaching out, grabbing hands, and getting in the audience.
“I was super nervous all day,” she told us early into her set. You wouldn’t know it from her large, bouncy electronic pop though. While throwing back a glass for “Red Wine” from a makeshift stage by the sound desk, blasting the crowd on 2015’s “Kamikaze”, and bringing the summer beats on “Nostalgia” (off of 2018’s Forever Neverland, her sophomore record), it was evident that MØ’s a seasoned pro.
Accompanied by a three-piece backing band, “Nights With You” would be as close a throwback to her punk routes as we might get musically, but she still approaches her live set like it’s in a sweaty garage rather than a polished nightclub.
“Blur” – a single from her 2018 record, featuring Foster The People – was warmly welcomed, MØ’s performing in front of a projected full moon. Let’s be honest, though… it’s a track that will forever and always sound like the Pixies “Where Is My Mind?”
Throughout the show, MØ kept things up and energetic. By the time main set ender “Lean On” came around (her smash 2015 collaboration with Diplo’s Major Lazer outfit), you’d be forgiven for feeling the dance floor fatigue.
There was still enough energy in the Thursday night crowd to pull her out for a three-song encore, though – MØ ending the night as you hoped she would: crowd surfing her way through a sea of outstretched hands.
It may have taken her a while to get to Melbourne for her own headlining set (piggybacking off of a Groovin The Moo festival play) – but it just meant the city got to see a performer who knows exactly how to work a crowd and deliver on the microphone.