Kelis and Robyn may have been billed as co-headliners for Tuesday night's show at the Trocadero, but it was in words only.
In a multiracial crowd of men and women in their 20s and 30s, Robyn was the clear favorite.
Kelis took the stage first. The 30-year-old singer hit pop culture with her infectious and slightly risque "Milkshake" back in 2003, but has since transformed herself from a Neptunes-produced rap/hip-hop/neo-soul star into a club diva.
She came on stage in a one-sleeved, sequined mini-dress - wearing five-inch heels and a platinum-blond wig with a partial weave of Christmas-tree tinsel - and said that all she wanted to do was dance. She wasn't kidding. In fact, while she sang a few songs off her latest album, Flesh Tone, most of her set was a karaoke collection of Top 40 hits from past decades interspersed with snippets of her own songs.
Kelis' "Caught Out There" and "Milkshake" - backed with beats from Madonna's "Holiday" - made the cut, as did ODB's "Got Your Money" and the Eurythmics' "Sweet Dreams." Her heart was clearly in the right place, as she danced around stage with her Tina Turner legs and impish dance moves. But while she riled up the crowd, there was a large disconnect between her voice and her dancing - and with the crowd. It was akin to watching really good karaoke.
From the moment Robyn's backing musicians - two drummers and two synth players - took the stage amid dense fog and strobe lights, it was clear this was going to be a notch above Kelis. When Robyn entered as a backlit silhouette and started to sing "Fembots" in her Cyndi Lauperesque soprano, the crowd was in ecstasy. Not even a minute in and she was approaching Madonna territory.
As she ticked off songs from her newest album, Body Talk Pt. 1, it became clear that you don't go to a Robyn concert to hear her sing, which she does very well. You go to watch her dance. She takes up the whole stage: bopping around, swinging her arms, '80s aerobics instructor moves, grinding, and a couple more red-light moves.