Photographs by Sean Chin.
In the small venue of Tattoo on Queen street, many bodies were pouring in and quickly being cemented for the first night of Canadian Music Week. As many waited for M.I.A. to take the stage, it wasn’t until 10 o’clock that her opening act, Sweden’s bombastic Elliphant, waltzed in front of her DJ like she owned the place. She may as well be the owner, as she put on an opening act that was pretty tough to follow (unless you’re M.I.A., of course). This young talent has just released her first full length titled A Good Idea, and it follows M.I.A.’s how-to book pretty closely (but not to the point of imitation). Elliphant was a good choice when it came to picking an opener for the night not just because of the genre of music she plays but because she lit the place on fire.
Each song melted into one another, and many of us were new to this material (and to Elliphant in general). That didn’t matter. She made many of us fans instantly. With a bass that caused earthquakes, each song got imprinted into our heads as soon as they started. Elliphant (birth name Ellinor Olovsdotter) talked in between every song as if she was amongst us on the floor and she was Jay Gatsby seeing if we were having a good time. She asked us if the drinks at the bar were too expensive, and she commanded the bar tenders to ease off of the high prices. She told us she knew we were saving our energy for M.I.A. but to try to have fun anyways. It’s not uncommon for people to be motionless for opening acts no matter who they are, but Elliphant slowly got the crowd going despite their best attempts to conserve themselves. By the end of her set, everyone was going crazy for this up and coming talent.
Elliphant held the microphone right up against her face for most of the night as she would yell, sneer and dictate lines with such an attitude that she’d be frightening if she didn’t look so pretty. She would prowl around the stage like a wild cat, whether she was singing, rapping or even talking: The stage was her stomping ground and hers alone. She would drink Heineken, take puffs of her electronic cigarette, pass words with her DJ and whatever else made her feel like home. Her set was quite bizarre but in the best sense of that word: It was like a party, a karaoke bar, her bedroom and a stage all at once. It was comforting but not unprofessional. It was intimate but not powerless. It was everything an opener should be.
I haven’t seen so many new listeners won over so quickly by an opening act in a very long time, and with a large increase in both female rappers and Swedish electronic musicians, Elliphant may find herself comfortable in much larger venues in the future. At this point, it didn’t even matter if she wasn’t the main lining act as her performance (along with M.I.A.’s) has been one of the most memorable and engaging performances I have been a part of in a while (and I say I was a part of it as she made sure everyone was, as we were a “cookie” baked as one).
Thanks to Audioblood for media access.