Ionnalee is an international mystery, the scale of which parallels the mystery of the very cosmos in which she sings about and is clearly in sync with. It’s rare that pop music fans in America embrace a Swedish import as tightly and devoutly as they have with Jonna Lee but after seeing this futurist angel made of flesh and chrome perform live, the real mystery is how she isn’t on the top of the charts with monuments of her erected of the moon.
Formerly performing under the moniker, Iamamiwhoami, Ionnalee’s synth pop is polished, sweeping, danceable, vogue-able, and communicates both in sound and lyric, ideas and feelings that make you realize your insignificance existing between space and time but also your transcendence above space and time as as a soul and stars made into flesh. Ionnalee shines with star power through her skin. She takes control of every stage, dancing without pause for over an hour with moves and artistry only she can execute. She only creates the visual component of her set, projections of space, black and white Richard Avedon-esque dramatic realist imagery, science fiction, all in starkly contrast shadows and highlights.
Opening the show with more future pop was Allie X, a self-described starlet and rightfully so, her wardrobe is garish yet tasteful, outlandish yet perfect for her. Allie X is what happens when Lady Gaga takes over the world and all her little monsters grow up into artists. Her songs are catchy, fun, powerful, and her stage charisma is like none you’ve ever seen. All she has to do is cross her index and middle fingers and now you’ve seen the international sign for Allie X. She will soon be headlining her own shows, festivals, and tours, and it’s only a matter of time until she becomes a household name.
I was introduced to Ionnalee’s music through fans of industrial, dark electronic music in Los Angeles. There’s an element of darkness, maybe bleakness, in Ionnalee’s music, sure, but really, she spreads so much joy, love, and warmth that the love overshadows any pain, hers, yours, or anyone’s.
I’ve never seen so much love pour out of a crowd, they brought multiple bouquets of roses to the show and distributed one to each audience member in the front of the crowd to shower Ionnalee with them. And though you couldn’t see her tears, you knew she was exploding with emotion inside. After all, she is an artist of the people, jumping into the crowd to surf over our heads or embracing those in the front. Her love is infinite and her music is a metaphor for infinity itself, which is love.
One special moment of the set was when she brought out Zola Jesus to perform a new song with her. The duo finished up the song with a heart warming embrace on stage. After a brief moment off-stage, Ionnalee came back for an encore during which she took a fan’s aluminum foil crown and put it on and it was as if she became a character from Where the Wild Things Are.
At the end of the show, Ionnalee brought her team onstage and thanked each of them, showing the utmost humility, grace, and poise. This was a transformative show for everyone in attendance, we left sweaty and with our hearts filled, knowing this was one of the best shows we had all ever seen. Ionnalee’s music and visuals are top notch but because she puts so much emotion and effort into everything she does, the audience can’t help but root for her all the way, always.
Words by: Robert Shepyer
Photos by: Maggie St. Thomas