RUST is not a big venue. The concert tonight is sold out, and so the audience, many of whom are female, is crammed close. The crowd is very hip, but then again, so is the band. The Brooklyn pop duo have remixed MØ and have been remixed by CHVRCHES, were fallen for by the blogosphere, oh, and she has colourful hair. So far, so somewhat predictable.
However, as the concert begins, and singer Lizzie Plapinger releases the low, sultry tones of “Bones” upon the audience, I start to think there might be more to this band than comes across on their debut album, ‘Secondhand Rapture’.
Mid-way through the concert, Max Hershenow, Plapinger’s partner, producer and keyboard player, explains, “Lizzie and I started MS MR three years ago now, in my bedroom, or cupboard turned studio. I didn’t know I could produce and Lizzie didn’t know she could sing, so when we first started we thought it would be easier to do a cover.” The duo then performed Patrick Wolf’s “Time of My Life”, as they had done three years ago. Those comments come as a surprise upon hearing Plapinger’s voice, which has been on top form all night. It’s great on record, but a bit too girlie. Live, it’s more raw and real, underneath echoey vocal effects. They follow the Wolf cover with “Fantasy”, aptly chosen to co-ordinate with Plapinger declaring the Danes have “lived up to your stereotype” of being “so sexy!”
The most striking observation to make about the concert is how incredibly likeable the band are. Plapinger’s focused, but there’s an innocence and excitement that radiates from her onstage. By “Salty”, the third track of the night, she’s warmed up and confident, and has shaken off some of the awkward if charming nerves. Between songs, and sometimes during them, she cannot help but beam in disbelief. There are few seamless transitions; before “BTSK” for instance, Plapinger says “It’s really hot, I hope you’re well lubricated,” before screwing her face, giggling and adding “take that as you will.” But even the awkward stage banter and audience interaction is engaging. There’s something of the good girl trying to be rebellious as she climbs onto the drum set for “Head Is Not My Home” towards the end of the set. Of course, she’s been supported by Hershenow’s killer keyboard skills, which he’s on occasion employed to fill and complement the clunky gaps between songs. “We’ll all wait whilst you drink some water, Lizzie,” Max teases. It’s obvious that the chemistry between the two is at the heart of this band, from the dizzy sidelong looks to the samba dancing intervals.
Unsurprisingly, the final song is “Hurricane”. Plapinger’s voice is getting tired, she’s missing notes, and the focus is waning, but the enthusiasm and energy is infectious. As the curtain is drawn and Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” fills RUST’s speakers, the audience continues to dance. The concert was not flawless, but it was the imperfections that made it great.