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Oh Land at Gramercy Theatre

by Robert Leeper

Oh_land_2013_01-color-eyeIn her performance Tuesday night at the Gramercy Theatre, Danish electro-pop songstress Nanna Øland Fabricius—better known as Oh Land—was everything we love about indie pop stars: playful, amatory, powerful, down to earth. Celebrating the release of her much-awaited third album, Wish Bone, Oh Land announced she was happy to be sharing the occasion with her adopted home of NYC, who seemed equally pleased to be sharing it with her.  

Oh Land's show was influenced by rap, synth-driven pop, lounge singing, and a variety of other styles, all joined by her distinctive vocals and a wild, enthusiastic stage presence that would have made even the most begrudging critic break a smile. A lot of credit also goes to Oh Land's talented band, creating a heavy atmospheric foundation that allowed her voice to float above.

Showcasing her penchant for melancholy were songs like "Wolf and I" and "Next Summer." "Renaissance," the first single off Wish Bone, is an ode to female empowerment that draws its potency from bright electronic beats and elastic vocals: "Doing the laundry and planning for the future/Is the nature of a Renaissance girl." Her penetrating and flexible voice soared above the dark synths and pounding bass drum laden with emotional punch.

Oh Land occasionally had a bit of trouble hitting some pitches, sliding around until she found the notes she wanted. But her fire and zeal were transfixing, and more than made up for her small imperfections. She was out there to have fun, and the audience fed off of her positive energy.

She ended her set with "Sun of a Gun," off her 2011 self-titled album, and the crowd erupted with every anthemic chorus, each with a bigger drop than the last. Her first encore was an enchanting duet with her guitarist, "Love You Better," which had a folk quality reminiscent of Simon and Garfunkel's renditions of English folk songs, and she sang "White Knights" with a harder edge and without the frivolous island rhythms found on the album.

The only way to describe opener Sun Rai is to say he has a kind of indie/Americana sound, even though he's actually Australian; it's as if Don McLean wrote "American Pie" in 2013 in Williamsburg, instead of California in 1971. The one-man band had a lot of fun beat-boxing, and also used his loop station to great effect.

Anastasia, in an ill-fated attempt to replicate Lady Gaga, started off the evening by taking the stage in some sort of early 20th-century burlesque outfit. While she had a strong—if not particuarily distinctive—voice, her songs were aggressively dramatic. A bit of respite from the seriousness would have done her set well.