NEW YORK, NY—Around 8 p.m. the sidewalk outside of Terminal 5 was swarming with bevies of 19-year-old hipster girls and gay men being inspected by security guards before being permitted entrance to the club. “La Roux” was posted on the door of the venue as people filed in as they prepared for a night of drinking, dancing, and rabble-rousing.
The crowd paid little attention to opening act Atarah Valentine’s performance. The gothic singer, backed by two dancers with Lady Gaga-esque hairstyles and bizarre lace capris, failed to captivate concert-goers (despite his attempts to hypnotize them with an obnoxiously glittery black shirt and synchronized choreography). The lack of interest in the crowd was partially because Valentine’s electric drum beats and heavily effected vocals were not traditionally dance-friendly and partially because the vast majority of people there came only to see La Roux. As a result, most people took to the roof to get food, to smoke cigarettes, and to avoid the sound of Valentine’s hackneyed techno beats.
When La Roux took the stage, the venue swelled with excited anticipation and instantaneously become crowded. La Roux frontwoman Elly Jackson seized the stage in an ‘80s style white blazer and her trademark androgynous faux hawk. Two keyboardists and a drummer supported the singer. The band’s set included all the songs the crowd wanted to hear, popular singles “Quicksand,” “I’m Not Your Toy,” and “In For the Kill.”
Some people pushed to get closer to the stage while others boogied manically. Between songs Jackson spoke minimally, which made for a perfect dance show. However, when Jackson did talk, all were receptive to what she had to say. The crowd was especially supportive when she announced her parents were in the audience and stated: “I’ve been trying for years to get you guys to like me.” While most singers praise the audience of whatever city they’re in on a given night, Jackson’s commendations of New York seemed genuine and only made fans love her more.
Unlike most electropop acts, La Roux sounded just as good live as on the album. Their high-pitched vocals, beguiling lyrics, and synth heavy sound was infectious. Everyone in the club seemed to be bopping along to the music as Jackson sauntered on stage with a meek yet charming presence. Her high energy was unmatched by the transparent, motionless act of the guys in her supporting band. Their mild performance put the focus on Jackson’s singing and the sound of the music, which was impressively tight.
Just under the set’s hour mark, the band quickly said farewell and exited the stage. Few in the crowd were surprised when the foursome hurriedly retook the floor to perform their fan-favorite “Bulletproof.” After that, they thanked the crowd and departed. The crowd followed suit with a mad dash to the door in search of fresh air and an escape from the smell of sweat and alcohol that pervaded the sold-out show.
It’s safe to say that La Roux’s efforts to win over New York are a bonafide success, even if it did take a couple years.