– Oh Land: October 4, 2013 in Chicago
Two nights earlier, Nanna Øland Fabricius fell down a well. Luckily the Danish songstress only emerged with a right shin of purple bruises and some cunning stage banter.
“I guess I should’ve wished while I was down there. Does it count more if you throw your whole body down there?” she joked with the Chicago crowd, who she had previously seen in May at the same venue.
Fabricius is more recognizable as Oh Land, a moniker that plays off her opera singer mother’s maiden name. It would be unfair to pigeonhole her as just a pop performer (she is) or a record producer (again, yes) or electro-dance maven (also true). She’s a woman of many colors, but perhaps, above all, she is pure fun. Blue-haired and full-body-spandex clad, Fabricius is a beauty queen to put it lightly, but even more distracting than her looks is her powerful voice.
The Friday evening setlist was all new material plucked straight from her September-released album Wish Bone (Federal Prism). It’s her third to date, following her eponymous debut and sophomore record Fauna. “Cherry On Top” opened with Fabricius seated behind the white keys with Tore Nissen on the adjacent keyboard, Andy Bauer on drums and Owen Beverly on guitar. Like the lyrics begged, it was a “slowed down” rendition.
She rose front and center behind the microphone for “Bird In An Aeroplane.”
“I guess this one’s about migrating birds,” she said, discussing the surreal experience of seeing birds in an airport. “I guess they have really long routes so you can’t blame them.”
When an audience member asked about her accent, Fabricius explained she lived in Sweden for three years so it’s a Danish-Swedish mix (she was born in Copenhagen and now resides in Brooklyn, NY). It’s apparent when she says, “Wow, I didn’t know there were so many wolfs in Chicago” after performing “Wolf & I.”
A floating balloon made its way above Fabricius during “My Boxer.” As if on cue, she volleyed it back to the crowd before unveiling a megaphone for the refrain, “I’ve got a boxer / He’s living in my ears and he hits the drum / Playing by ear.”
Supporting Oh Land is Sun Rai, an Australian-born, Los Angeles-based jazz-pop crooner. The moustached Rai Thistlethwayte—who may have the best last name ever—didn’t even try to deny his affinity for writing songs about the West Coast. “Yet another song about California by an Australian,” he announced before “Instant California,” which achieved other-worldly levels of warm happiness. Oh Land’s Nissen joined on keys, and the two looked genuinely thrilled to be making music together. “That was a rush,” Thistlethwayte said after the last twinkling sounds faded out. How can I follow that one, he wondered aloud. But he did with a ridiculously pretty “Berlin Wall” that bore the lyrics, “You come down like the Berlin Wall / You fight your own internal wall / You haven’t lost your mind / You’ve lost perspective.”
Later, Oh Land’s encore closed out with hit “White Nights,” but not before Fabricius silenced the room with “Love You Better” and amped it back up with “Renaissance Girls,” the first single off Wish Bone. The dance floor turned into a trampoline, and she bounced along like a giddy schoolgirl, pulling her neon ponytail straight up in the air.
“We’ve got a lot of Renaissance men and women in here!” she proffered. If only everyone could have shown as many talents as her.
Catch Oh Land on tour:
10/12/13 Colorado Springs, CO @ Black Sheep
10/13/13 Denver, CO @ Bluebird Theatre
10/17/13 Vancouver, BC @ Venue
10/18/13 Portland, OR @ Wonder Ballroom
10/20/13 Seattle, WA @ The Crocodile
10/23/13 San Francisco, CA @ The Independent
10/24/13 West Hollywood, CA @ Troubadour