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  • Todd Hamm
It's kind of strange walking into a place named after a folded banking giant, but either way, the open accessibility of the WaMu Theater was far from sub-prime.

The red wine (at $8/glass, the cheapest drinking option) at the venue bar proved a little tough to chug, but once I heard the first notes (okay, a few songs) of opening performer Lo-Fang's set, I slugged mine down, and caught the last song from my seat in the front-left of the venue. The L.A.-based producer was joined on stage by a small backing band, and sang medium-energy songs without moving around a lot. It was easy-listening, and inoffensive, and certainly didn't steal the show.

After a nacho-laden intermission, my wife and I returned to our seats and needed only to wait a few minutes before New Zealand's Ella Yelich-O'Connor, now known as the 17-year-old pop phenom Lorde, started in with her best song "Glory and Gore." With a limited catalogue of songs to choose from, the set list was very to-the-point (aside from a few covers), which suited the audience just fine. They wanted the hits, and they got the hits. Opinions about her music aside, there is a definite thrill in seeing a young pop-star handle such a large crowd (she said there were 5,000 attendees between songs) so early on in her career. With her black dress black dress blending into the black curtains, she seemed to know what she was doing up there, and any awkwardness she showed simply seemed like part of the act.

Her spastic air-drumming—or "exorcist hands" to quote my wife—did stick out, and it's equally funny that those jerky dance moves have kind of become her trademark. Seriously, if she was playing all the instruments she was miming, she'd be tUnE-yArDs. Her banter was minimal, and mainly consisted of thank-yous, and she showed her age when she said things like "Maybe you're 15, or 19, or all grown up" to the audience (anything older than 19 is off the charts!) Oh well. She, along with co-producer Joel Little, have made some of the most listenable mainstream music in recent memory, and their minimalist beats coupled with her personal, yet powerful vocals were a perfect fit for an arena show. She'll develop as a lyricist, I'm sure, and maybe even work out some dance moves, but all-in-all, it was a good show.

She played a cover of Son Lux's "Easy," which has become a fixture in her lineup, and went off well, then wrapped up with a couple of her own. It was a tight fourteen (or so) song set with no encore, and—ever mindful of the crowd's looming school day—she let us out well before 11 pm.