The MTelus felt like the pride parade Wednesday night, March 13th, 2019 as the gay community took over the venue to celebrate an icon, the Swedish Madonna, Robyn. A seven PM start time would typically have a crowd that slowly filters in as the night progressed, but this was not the case at all, ladies and gentlemen. This was a packed house from start to finish, a party atmosphere all the way through, all positive vibes and good energy.
The party started with Kindness, the DJ project of London based artist Adam Bainbridge, who actually played two sets, another right before Robyn. The first set was a more chill, indie/loungey vibe that was an ideal way to ease the crowd into a full-on party. As much as I struggle personally with the idea of having a DJ perform in a live concert setting, Kindness played the role of opener perfectly and got the crowd hyped and moving to the vibrations of the night.
His second set was a more energized blend of R&B party anthems and throwbacks, mixing in some nice 90s R&B samples that flowed seamlessly with his own brand of music. Check out “Swinging Party” to pick up on some of those chill vibes yourself, incredible interpretation of The Replacements classic hit.
The second act, Channel Tres, straight out of Compton, CA was quite the change stylistically. Sheldon Young fronts the project along with two dancers, no musicians on stage, which makes for an interesting dynamic. The choreographed dances were fucking killer and even though the stage was already cramped with Robyn’s equipment, these guys made it happen. Channel Tres mix in a ton of electronics to their danceable hip-hop, giving the impression that we’re here to party, but also be chill at the same time; “Controller” exemplified this perfectly, Young imploring the crowd to shout back “throw some sub in that bitch,” as the bass pulsated nonchalant. Young dedicated the track “Brilliant Nigga” to his brother currently in jail. Young had the crowd clap for him but didn’t specify why he was in jail; what are we clapping for exactly!? Based on the content of the song I think it’s probably drug-related, regardless it’s a fucking chill jam, loungey hip-hop grooves and slick bars.
This was Robyn’s party. Few people in pop have the stage presence and body language that Robyn imbues on stage. Setting the tone with “Send To Robin Immediately” and “Honey” off her latest release Honey, Robyn would lean heavily on the new stuff throughout this set. The crowd was instantly taken into a trance and the room began to move as one. A massive projection screen at the back of the stage captured all the action, a mirror image of each of Robyn’s majestic steps, pulsating dance moves and expressions. A new era Madonna, her aura is truly radiant and implores the crowd to dance with no reservations and the free spirit you would normally hold for the shower or bedroom mirror.
One hit after the next flowed over the crowd as the party intensified into a climax for “Dancing On My Own,” the irony is that nobody in that room was dancing on their own. Some moments are too precious for meagre words on a screen and that was one of those moments. Following it up with “Missing U” was just too perfect, an affirmation that Robyn puts a ton of thought into creating a set list that’s both aesthetically pleasing and career spanning. The encores didn’t even truly feel like encores, that’s how well the set tied together. Everything flowed together in unity, nothing was out of place, in a room entirely full of diversity we were all one and Robyn was queen.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Michael Kovacs
*edited by Mike Milito