Somewhere in Brooklyn, a square room lit by a single disco ball hosts around 300 individuals as they gather to listen to the mystical synth-pop of Swedish singer Molly Nilsson. The night is young at the Market Hotel, and if it weren’t for the J train visibly running by every so often, you would think time had come to a halt.
Before Nilsson takes command of the room, a synthesizer-driven duo by the name of BDX graces the stage. Dressed in vampiric punk garments, BDX livens the venue by delivering a strange blend of electronica and punk that strangely works. It’s a testament to the lead singer’s crazy antics: his ability to thrash around, jump and scream into the microphone, as if there was no tomorrow, yesterday was gone and only the present mattered. Kicking and screaming, BDX works through a wide array of songs before performing “The BDX Theme Song” and a couple of new releases as their encore. And that’s that; BDX bows before the crowd of Brooklynites and packs their gear to pave the way for Nilsson and the awkward glory of her dancing.
Secretly weaving through the crowd and onto the stage at the other side of the venue, Nilsson rapidly takes command of the room by dancing a la Audrey Horne all the while singing to the beat of her own computer. Pulling most of the set from her most recent album, “2020,” Nilsson delivers a jubilant performance interspersed with words of wisdom drawing from her experience as a solo female artist working in the field of music. The constant back and forth between her tales of bootstrap growth within the field and the DIY quality of her sound make for an empowering set. For an instant, the world’s qualms seem to fade away, this tiny venue in Bushwick begins encapsulating existence and everyone gazes at Nilsson as she hypnotizes members of a generation generally governed by cynicism with her air of supreme positivity.
Lacking a band behind her back, Nilsson leads her lonesome performance with grace and bravado. Reveling in the fact that she is entirely in control of the room, she begins dancing despite her evident lack of skill; generating a sense of acceptance for anyone who might have been too afraid or embarrassed to dance otherwise. By the end of the night, everyone is cavorting in an equally awkward manner while Nilsson delivers a four-song encore that comes to a conclusion with what Nilsson has dubbed her favorite song ever: “1995.” It’s a song about delighting in nostalgia, expressing the entirety of time in the present and having fun — emotions that are perfectly transmitted by Nilsson’s elegant vocality and infectious charisma.
Cultivating her performance in anticipation of the forthcoming release of her new album and accompanying tour scheduled for October, Nilsson proves she’s still got it despite not having released an album in two years. Sporting a smile into the future and delighting in the present, Nilsson’s recent performance at the Market Hotel confirms the beauty of the timelessness of her sonic ingenuity and how it has managed to keep her successful in the modern independent music scene.
A version of this article appears in the Monday, Feb. 3, 2020, print edition. Email Nicolas Pedrero-Setzer at [email protected]