An overflowing crowd waited amidst blue light, a low drone came across the soundsystem, incense quickly filled the air with a nearly opaque wave of smoke. Karen Dreijer Andersson and her four band mates took the stage as costumed silhouettes and remained as such for the first several songs. It was exactly the beginning of a sold-out Fever Ray show at Webster Hall that you'd expect.
As the self-titled debut suggests, the mood was eerie and emotive, but with a flair for the theatrical. A dozen antique lamps pulsated in time with the beat before lasers cut through the smoke, shedding the most light we'd see on the band. Dreijer discarded her massive fur headdress, while the other band members writhed to the music in Kabuki-inspired costumes. Opening with "If I Had a Heart," they played each song from their ten-track album, adding impressive (if not unexpected) covers of Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds ("Stranger than Kindness") and Vashti Bunyan ("Here Before"). To build the energy, Dreijer's guitarist wielded his instrument high in the air and at one point took up a scepter, creating a nightmarishly memorable visual.
One-half of Swedish electro pop duo the Knife, Dreijer eschewed the spotlight for much of her early career. The band toured only once—in support of their 2006 album, Silent Shout—but they announced an ensuing hiatus during the string of shows. The time off has clearly been good to Dreijer, allowing her to build her new band but maintain the mystery and coolness, both in music and personality. The band didn't speak a word on stage as they proceeded through the twelve songs in exactly an hour, sans encore. And despite the relatively short set, the crowd buzzed with excitement as it filed out of the venue, content with a stellar live show that lived up to the unique music.