Posted By: Mat Shiley
With the weather in the mid-60s and the sun shining bright, Marie Ulven AKA girl in red, joined Chicago in welcoming spring at long last. Nearing the end of a long list of US and Canadian cities on her very first North American Tour, Norwegian native Marie Ulven joined Conan Grey for a small crowd of 300 at Chicago’s Bottom Lounge.
With a majority of her fan base residing in the UK, I had anticipated her set to be relatively intimate and tame. Being the opening act at a small venue early on a Monday night is no easy feat, and many might have assumed the same. These assumptions, however, could not have been further from the truth.
Clocking in at just under a half an hour, girl in red managed to pack all the energy and showmanship of a headlining set into just 30 minutes.
She came out of the gates with a fiery passion and sustained that dynamic throughout her set. The band bobbed and swayed and eventually turned to moshing themselves on stage as the show progressed. Ulven parted the crowd about three-quarters of the way through the show, and positioned herself with a mic and guitar on the ground floor in the crowd, playing “girls” in a sort of unorthodox in-the-round setting. She completely engulfed herself amongst her fans who welcomed her with loving arms, singing and dancing alongside her. Although this may have seemed to fulfill some of the more intimate expectations I had, the sweet moment with her fans quickly turned to a high energy bop after Ulven urged her fans to pull closer and join her for the final chorus.
With the help of all four remaining band members, Ulven was pulled back on stage for her final tune. Before she started, however, Ulven shared a heartfelt story of a fan who approached her with a letter before the show that highlighted an experience similar to that depicted in one of Ulven’s songs. Silence fell over the room that had been filled with sweaty dancing bodies just moments before. The hype of the previous song was replaced by an affectionate calm as the audience listened with kind ears. When Ulven finished her story she dedicated her final song to the fan she had met earlier that day. With the crowd’s hearts warmed, Ulven broke the attentive silence with that very song, “i wanna be your girlfriend”.
With the first note of her final track, this tranquility transcended, and the sea of people erupted into a spirited last dance. Ulven set her guitar aside and let loose, bouncing all across the stage, climbing on top of amps and colliding with her bandmates in an electric final performance. Her energy was reciprocated and amplified by the masses, making her last song one to remember.
Although short and sweet, girl in red packs a punch that cannot be overlooked. This may be her first North American tour, but it is certainly not her last.