Attention whores rise. On Feb. 27, glitter-clad locals flocked through rain to Fox Theater — though the crowd was originally searching for a nostalgia-filled night, Tove Lo’s stunning concert felt like a blessing from the future.
Outfitted with shades and colossal heels, pop opener Slayyyter amped up the crowd with her DJ, getting the crowd to mosh to “Mine” and smashing with crowd-pleaser closer “Daddy AF.” By the end of her set, Fox Theater was beyond packed with couples making out, sweaty tank tops and razor-thin sunglasses galore.
The sold-out show kicked off with the deep, satisfied sigh of “Pineapple Slice,” a sultry tune about getting down and going down. Tove Lo emerged from the theater’s wings in a pure silver one-piece, taking large strides across the stage as red light poured behind her. All light refracted off the musician’s metallic suit, making her sparkle like a diamond.
For the next two hours, Tove Lo ran through her discography with rapture, from the deep cut “Are U gonna tell her?” to the bad b— anthem “Cool Girl” to the yearning one-off single “Borderline.” Though she’s known as a reigning queen of darker grunge pop, her performance fostered self-love more than characteristic moodiness.
This isn’t to say that theatrics were thrown aside. Dim lights slowly brightened like a sunrise during the heartwrenching buildup of “True Romance,” making for one of the most vocally and emotionally intense performances of the night. The piercing synth of “How Long,” the slick track from HBO’s “Euphoria,” brought down the house with the agony of empty promises and betrayal.
While it’s rudimentary to state that all eyes were on the headliner, Tove Lo wasn’t just the center of attention by default — she governed the stage like her territory, commanding attention with ambition and severity. As she jumped down from the stage to run past her front-row fans, her gleaming silver one-piece suddenly seemed like polished armor.
If Tove Lo’s one-piece is armor, then her coat of arms has to be her vagina logo. The symbol, featured on her Lady Wood album cover and across various merchandise, is also one of her many arm tattoos.
“My vagina tattoo reminds me not to make myself smaller, which is often what’s expected of women,” the singer said in an interview. “As girls, we’re often not encouraged to speak up. I’m allowed to claim my space.”
In Oakland, Tove Lo didn’t just claim the theater as her own, but shared it with her audience. It was inherently a space for performance, but it also surfaced as a space marked by safety, confession and honesty. From her refusal of domestic life in “Suburbia” to her struggle with body image in “Grapefruit,” Tove Lo broke open her understanding of womanhood like a rich fruit, red juice running down her hands and lips.
The Swedish songwriter’s latest album Dirt Femme vivisects femininity with ferocity, but sometimes you can’t beat the oldies. When an exaggerated yawn interrupted the theater’s hustle and bustle, the crowd took an instant collective breath before screaming, “I say hi, you say hi, we stay high — you look so pretty, yeah!” The classic bubbly beat of “disco tits” chimed in, and rainbow gradients washed the theater with sensual warmth.
Although “disco tits” was released back in 2017, the track remains relevant as ever. Toward the end of her set, the musician went through her final outfit change: a nude version of her spectacular gold corseted suit, false nipples peeking between metal strips. The Dirt Femme tour took audience members on an odyssey through Tove Lo’s womanhood, and her final ensemble represented her defiance of tradition.
For her encore, Tove Lo surprised audience members with her Lady Wood deep cut “Imaginary Friend” before moving into her smash “Habits (Stay High).” The crowd erupted with delight as the artist imbued the night with profound nostalgia, woefully belting about sex clubs, binging Twinkies and throwing up.
Tove Lo continued the wild melodrama as she moved into her striking closer “No One Dies From Love”: “We were so magical, why end this way?” she sang, later questioning, “Will you remember us?”
After the evening’s warm, consuming magic, the answer to Tove Lo’s final question was evident.