By Avery Adams
25 Feb, 2020
Anna Lotterud left a mark on Lincoln Hall — I’m not sure I can say it was a good mark, but I’m sure no one in that venue can forget her presence on Feb 25. Lotterud can be better recognized by her stage name Anna of the North; or rather, her music may be more recognizable than her name. Hailing from Oslo, Norway, Anna of the North has had spurts of fame since her debut single “Sway” was remixed by The Chainsmokers back in 2017. Others may recognize her single “Lovers” from its appearance on the 2018 Netfilx film To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, or even from her features on Tyler, the Creator’s singles “Boredom” and “911 / Mr. Lonely” off of his 2017 album Flower Boy.
As for seeing her live, I’ve pondered over and over again how I wanted to describe what I experienced — whether I am just too accustomed to intimate shows with simple bobs of the heads of the audience, of the nonchalant artists bantering with the nodding crowd, or whether I’m coming from an appropriate place to call this show out, but I’m just going to dive into how this performance made me feel.
If you’ve seen the Black Mirror episode, “Rachel, Jack and Ashley, Too,” featuring Miley Cyrus as Ashley O, a generic pop star, that’s exactly how Anna of the North came off. Her stereotypical, exaggerated interactions with the too generic crowd waving their hands in unison felt like what I assume melting down and combining every pop concert ever into a single performance would feel like.
Showcasing much of her latest album Dream Girl, Anna of the North kicked off the night with “Lonely Life,” showing a lot of love to all the cameras in the front row. By the time she got a few of the newer bops out of the way and began reintroducing some older hits from her 2017 album Lovers, like “Always” and “Someone,” the entire floor was flooded with smartphone cameras; and Anna ate them up, leaning as far into the crowd as the stage allowed. At first, I thought it genuine and respectably generous that she interacted so much with her fans, but as song after song was performed, I found every over-pronounced movement and point of connection with the crowd to be overly practiced and put-on.
By the time Anna of the North neared the end of her set, she took a moment to step away from her attempts at twerking to reach out to her audience. After recounting a fan’s letter asking her to play “Oslo” during her Chicago show, she bluntly teased the expectant fan, saying they wouldn’t be performing that song, but then quickly appeased the letdown and announced she would sing an acoustic version to him face-to-face. So without further ado, she stripped down her performance and sang into the adorning eyes of that lucky fan. But after forgetting several lines of her own song, I reconsidered the luck of having to look her in the eyes during that entire, painfully-long intimate moment.
To her credit, Anna’s poppiness was contagious through the venue, and during songs like “Dream Girl” and “Leaning On Myself,” she had the entire crowd swaying to the bubbly, synthetic beats. She closed out her initial set with a cover of Enya’s “Nothing Compares 2 U” before exiting the stage in an all too expectant-for-an-encore type of way.
Her encore consisted of “Reasons,” “Lovers,” and “Fire,” all with increasingly feral energy being emitted from the stage until Anna of the North eventually flashed the crowd as a last hoorah. But wait there’s more: despite finishing her set (and the encore), Anna proceeded to dance around the stage, invite fans up to join, and sing into turned-off mics until Lincoln Hall finally had to cut the lights on her.
I don’t want to be too negative; after all, Anna brought the coked-up energy that the screaming-along-to-every-word fans came to see. And I’m glad those fans got the show they craved; it simply wasn’t my cup of tea.