SXSW: Icona Pop Feel Nothing But Love

Being called one of the must-see acts at SXSW can be an overwhelming and tall order, but Swedish DJ-singer duo Icona Pop embrace the hype. And at Thursday’s Filter Mag and Dickies Day Party at Lustre Pearl, Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo were expectedly pumped to give their fans a show — that is, when they finally made it onto the stage.

Twenty-five minutes after their scheduled set time — which is enough time to create a horrendous domino/butterfly effect for all the venues, bloggers and fans who have meticulously scheduled each minute of the day — the two ladies emerged onstage. In black gothic outfits complete with shades that were on more for effect, since the stage was shielded from the sun, they kicked their set off with “Manners” and “Rocket Science.” And for an Icona Pop newbie like myself, I could hardly tell where one song ended, and the next began — the seamless transition that we wish all DJs could master.

Flirting with the crowd (who were just eating up everything the pair was giving them) and dancing around, you would never have guessed that they’ve been practically going nonstop for the past few weeks — from weeks of touring with Passion Pit and Matt and Kim to playing a slew of sets since they landed in Austin three days ago.

“This is our very first year here,” Jawo said as the two started fiddling around with their neon green mixers and synths to form a midtempo bass rhythm for “Nights Like This” and “Good For You.” “And you’ve been taking good care of us. So let’s do this and party!”

Despite the fact that they only have a couple of EPs in the US, fans up in the front seemed to know every lyric Hjelt and Jawo belted out. “I’m a little bit overwhelmed,” Hjelt admitted after seeing all the enthusiasm. Icona Pop then added their own spin by upgrading the bass (of course) and slowing down the tempo for a dark and slightly sexed-up version of the 1963 hit “It’s My Party.”

“Top Rated” and “Ready for the Weekend” followed, which kept the dance party going. However it wasn’t until they played “I Love It” — the magnetic track that put them on the map, and on several TV shows and commercials — that the Lustre Pearl was transformed from your typical bar on Rainey Street into a sweaty electro nightclub.

“Let’s give it all — thousands and thousands of percent!” Hjelt yelled. “I know I’m asking a lot, but I really want to share this with you guys.”

And with all the energy fans were throwing at them (drunkenly or not), no doubt Icona Pop felt the love in Austin.

*****

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