If being rubbed, bumped, and grinded by a roomful of hot, sweaty, shirtless gay men is your cup of tea, then you would have been in tea-party heaven on the final night of Robyn and Kelis’s All Hearts Tour. The weather was sweltering in New York yesterday, and the grand ballroom at Webster Hall felt like a sauna—a steamy, sticky, smelly, homoerotic sauna. Filled with dry ice.
Not long after taking the stage, Robyn stripped off her black bomber jacket to reveal a black sports super-bra; even her drummer eventually lost his shirt. The heat, though, didn’t stop her from busting a few moves—everything from the robot (during opening number “Fembot,” natch) to skillfully dry-humping the stage. She wasn’t quite as endearing or talkative as the last time we saw her, but she had energy to spare, sopping up her sweat with a towel, throwing it into the audience, and launching into the next electro-pop neo-classic without missing a beat.
With the second installment in her planned series of Body Talk mini-albums only a month away, it was a little surprising—and more than a little disappointing—that Robyn didn’t premiere any new tracks, even the album’s first single, an uptempo version of “Hang with Me.” Instead, she stuck to a mix of the first five tracks from Body Talk Pt. 1 and a handful of songs from Robyn, with her Röyksopp collaboration, “The Girl and the Robot,” thrown in for good measure. “Be Mine!” was given an unfortunate remix that completely drained the song of its energy and rendered it nearly atonal, but “With Every Heartbeat” was, per usual, sublime. If you didn’t know that Robyn 2.0 is still a relatively unknown name in mainstream America, you wouldn’t be able to tell by the throng of front-row fans reaching their hands up toward the Swedish pop singer and belting out every single word to every song she performed.
Robyn has reached the point in her career where she’s no longer obligated to dust off her ’90s hits; she could have performed her latest disc front-to-back and left the stage unscathed. The same can’t be said for Kelis, who performed earlier in the night. Her dance mini-opus Flesh Tone is fun, but it’s undoubtedly a transitional album, a clear attempt by an established artist to find her place in an increasingly fractured music scene by riding the wave of a fleeting trend. There was obvious enthusiasm for her disco-trash club hit “Acappella,” but the biggest cheers came when she launched into the popular bootleg mash-up of “Milkshake” and Madonna’s “Holiday.” Kelis’s first big hit, “Caught Out There,” was notably omitted from the setlist, and less popular songs left the audience—at this point still largely clothed—a bit nonplussed. Still, the former Neptunes protégé worked the crowd in her shiny blue bodysuit and DayGlo nail polish, seemingly undaunted by the heat. Note to Webster Hall: Get your AC fixed.