(Ally Hom/Staff Photographer)

To close out a week of Olympic games and Dooley sightings, Emory University’s Student Programming Council (SPC) held a concert on April 5 featuring student DJs, opener Icona Pop and headliner Flo Milli. Shaan Bhasin (25B) and Leila Buchan (26C) kicked off the evening with their respective DJ sets. When dance-pop duo Icona Pop took the stage, students were still arriving and enjoying grab-and-go style food.

However, attendees appeared relatively disinterested by the majority of Icona Pop’s set. The pit was only a few rows deep while everyone else was scattered across the field, either checking the time or kicking grass. A cover of “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” (1983) by Eurythmics, Annie Lennox and Dave Stewart elicited the most enthusiasm from the crowd.

While interspersing covers of classics throughout an hour-long set is a tactful move to boost audience engagement, it struck me as an implicit acknowledgement of their diminished stardom. 

Icona Pop released “Club Romantech” on Sept. 1, 2023, marking the duo’s first full-length long play since their debut “THIS IS… ICONA POP” (2013). This debut effort features the quintuple platinum song “I Love It (feat. Charli XCX)” (2012). Bolstered by televised performances, commercials and extensive radio play, the song quickly cemented itself as a cultural phenomenon

(Ally Hom/Staff Photographer)

For a recording artist, an “I made it!” moment can be removing their earpiece on stage and hearing the crowd roar — the best kind of sensory overload. From my perspective, if Icona Pop’s Caroline Hjelt and Aino Jawo ever experienced such a moment, it was from the success of “I Love It (feat. Charli XCX).” The duo rode this success to North America and Europe in 2014, where they opened for Miley Cyrus on her Bangerz Tour.

Despite voiceover and musical contributions to the “Trolls” (2016) franchise, the group has lost popularity in recent years. Their extended play “Så mycket bättre 2017: Tolkningarna” (2018) has garnered fewer streams on Spotify than the cast recording of “Just Sing (Trolls World Tour)” (2020). Such stagnant success might explain the lukewarm response to their set.

I would rather watch Icona Pop perform deep cuts that authentically showcase their brand than cover a Tove Lo song that the general public has memorized word-for-word. However, Hjelt and Jawo have already established themselves in the music industry. Regardless of a forfeited opportunity, their well-developed stage presence and vocal agility were effective enough.

Flo Milli was scheduled to take the stage after Icona Pop at 9 p.m. However, when she had still not arrived by 9:11 p.m., an attendee took to X, posting “girl wya we at Emory waiting on you” and tagging Flo Milli. The latter responded at 9:47 p.m., explaining that her significant other “pissed [her] off” and to “give [her] a min.”

The crowd began to disperse at 10 p.m., but a significant number of people remained. Nearly 47 more minutes went by before Flo Milli arrived and DJ Brown Sugar (Shaan Bhasin) stopped his impromptu second act to welcome her.

On “Beef FloMix” (2019), Flo Milli raps, “They watch me like I’m a new movie” — and that same fascination with her artistry was evident last Friday night when she finally took the stage.

The remaining fans spanned the entire width of McDonough Field up to the technology tent — approximately a third of the distance from the stage. Sporting an ensemble reminiscent of the Jaded London belted dress, Flo Milli’s confident demeanor and brassiness instantly resuscitated the crowd. The closer I got to the front, the louder and rowdier my surroundings became.

A brief pep talk from Flo Milli and the irresistible hook of “May I” (2020) was all it took for everyone to start moshing. Seeing my peers instinctively fall into synchronized dance moves to the song’s viral chorus evoked a deep sense of nostalgia within me — Flo Milli’s slick, skillful and TikTok-ready music was the quintessential soundtrack to quarantine.

Although mainstream hits were met with higher energy, Flo Milli’s best performance was of the deep cut “Bed Time” (2022) from her sophomore album “You Still Here, Ho?” (2022). After gliding onto the syncopated and bass-heavy beat, she charged every word with intention and playful furiosity. It served as a reminder of her rapping prowess, which can often be overlooked when her music is boiled down to a TikTok trend. The set clocked in at under half an hour — disappointing, yet reflective of her limited discography, as her songs average two minutes in length.

I left McDonough Field an hour later than I anticipated, feeling torn and tired. Flo Milli put on a solid performance, joining the pit twice to pose for selfies and videos. Although Icona Pop left much to be desired, their punctuality certainly did not go unappreciated.

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Colin Ference (he/him, 27C) is from Demarest, New Jersey. Ference intends to major in business with a specialization in the entertainment industry. In his free time, Ference enjoys rock climbing, fashion, reading/writing for pleasure, food, watching chiropractor videos, and listening to anything produced by Jack Antonoff, of course.