LOS ANGELES — Norwegian luminary Aurora dazzled at a sold-out show at Fonda Theater on Wednesday with a spectrum of emotions through her exuberant brand of art-pop.
Aurora Aksnes and her band supercharged her music, from the punchy rhythmic and impassioned singing to the immersive atmospheres and instrumental presence. She relished the prominent beats, dancing with seemingly unending energy as jubilant vibes of early cuts like “Soft Universe” and “All is Soft Inside” reached full volume. The stage backdrop’s forest imagery and jellyfish ornaments hanging like chandeliers matched her anime-like stage garb, complementing her evocative tunes to a truly mind-altering effect.
On more mid-paced cuts like “Gentle Earthquakes” and “Warrior,” the brazen power of Aurora’s sound was elevated with commanding downbeats and walls of ornate synth and bass. Aksnes harmonized with the rest of the band to keep up with the instruments with corral-like vocal arrangements. Songs like these showcased her infectious stage presence, but never at the expense of her heart-warming personality.
Aurora’s inconspicuous, fairy-like speaking voice played the perfect counterpart to her fervent stage antics. Even when introducing the heartbreaking “Murder Song (5, 4, 3, 2, 1),” her presence remained as inviting as it was raw. She also delved into how an older song called “Home” changed meaning for her as she sees how even the homeless can find a sense of belonging by creating their own community. The former cut’s vulnerable tail of love lost and the latter’s somber ruminating left even the bar silent.
It was these moments of intimacy that made the confrontational new single “Animal” and the overwhelming vocal chops of “Forgotten Love” so satisfying. She accepted fan art, roses and even a heart-shaped cushion from the audience, visibly touched by the unique community that had formed around her music and aesthetic.
Encore song “Queendom” saw Aurora’s vision assume its final form. The band fired on all cylinders and Aksnes waved a rainbow handkerchief, ending the night with a proclamation of solidarity and self-affirmation: “My queendom come.”
Aurora was preceded by Irish singer-songwriter Talos. Eoin French, who released his sophomore album, Far Out Dust, two weeks ago fulfilled his claim that the album would be “boisterous and anthemic while still creating atmosphere, tone and headspace.”
Talos’ band only made this sonic blustering more apparent, with cuts like “The Light Upon Us” hitting with jolting magnitude. With percussionists Josh Sampson and Sam McNicholl beefing up electronic beats, French’s falsetto singing voice remained as ethereal and soothing as ever. Bowed electric guitars and huge crescendos recalled the likes of Sigur Rós, balanced out with arresting arena rock choruses.
The distinction between songs off of Far Out Dust and his 2017 debut, Wild Alee, was evident. But the band swimmingly navigated the debut’s giant reverb and the followup’s hard-hitting beats. The centerpiece remained French’s voice, but the players provided much more than simple support. Older cuts like “Odyssey” and “Your Love Is An Island” overwhelmed with their scope, while newer ones like “See Me” bloomed in full as complete realizations of how far French has come as a performer. Whether he manned the guitar or the synth, French’s impressive instrumental and singing range led his set through hypnotic valleys and transcendent peaks.
Los Angeles trio Kingsbury began the night with a rousing set of catchy, dynamic tunes. The band’s chemistry was evident as frontwoman Caroline Kingsbury relinquished her guitar and allowed her second guitarist to drive her energetic singing with a five-string bass. Whether they resorted to crunchy garage rock strains and bongo percussion loops or fleeting balladry, Kingsbury set the tone for a night of electrifying grooves and emotional viscera.