Students gathered on Abele Quad Nov. 11, to take part in Old Duke 2023, an annual concert run by Duke University Union (DUU), where Icona Pop made their long-awaited return to Duke after four years.
Icona Pop is a Swedish electronic dance music (EDM) duo most recognizable for their 2012 hit “I Love It” featuring Charli XCX. Aino Jawo, also known as AJ, and Caroline Hjelt are the masterminds behind Icona Pop. They formed the duo in 2009 after first attending the same music school and later reuniting at a party. Icona Pop performed at Duke once in 2019 as the headliner for the annual P-Checks concert in K-Ville; after the performance received overwhelmingly positive feedback from students, DUU decided to bring them back for another concert, as revealed in their pre-concert meet and greet.
The fun on Abele Quad commenced at 4:45 p.m. as DUU members handed out Pop Rocks, a sour candy that pops in the mouths of its consumers, and custom stickers to students. Soon after, Small Town Records band Solfish’s opening performance started the show. (Small Town Records is Duke’s student-run record label, signing on several Duke student-organized bands and artists such as Solfish every year.) Solfish seamlessly combines elements of jazz and indie music together to create memorable and powerful performances. Lead vocalist and Trinity sophomore Nabrissa Badu and her bandmates wooed the crowd with a mix of covers of classic songs such as “Killing Me Softly With His Song” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You” and original songs such as “Tell All” and “Like Me.”
In the interim between Solfish’s and Icona Pop’s performances, DUU members distributed glow stick goodies such as bracelets and sunglasses to students while DJ Adom spun some tunes. At 6 p.m. sharp, Icona Pop took the stage. Much like their opening band Solfish, Icona Pop alternated between playing remixes and original songs throughout the night. From remixes of “California Dreamin’” and “I Was Made for Lovin’ You” to their original songs “Stick Your Tongue Out” and “Faster,” Icona Pop brought an infectious energy to Abele Quad. The duo even gave the audience a sneak peek at a brand new song of theirs titled “Tears on the Dancefloor,” which is set to be released very soon. The song encompasses the classic underground nightclub feel, with deep rhythmic bass and smooth vocals creating the foundations of “Tears on the Dancefloor”. Throughout the concert, Icona Pop encouraged the audience to clap or sing along and asked how the crowd was feeling between songs, which was typically followed by highly enthusiastic cheers and shouts. The duo ended their concert with two of their most recognizable and popular songs, being “All Night” and “I Love It.” In particular, “I Love It” brought a new level of excitement to the crowd, with nearly every person in the audience singing along or jumping to the beat.
I had the pleasure of briefly meeting Icona Pop in Page Auditorium before their concert alongside two other students. The excitement in the room was unmatched, both from the students meeting Icona Pop and Icona Pop themselves. During the meet and greet, the duo shared their love for Duke, especially the gothic feel of the campus and the energy of the students, and their desire to return again after Old Duke 2023.
Although many students arrived at Old Duke with minimal knowledge of Icona Pop, nearly every student left feeling energized, enthusiastic, and excited to hear more from Icona Pop in the future.
More information about Solfish can be found on their Instagram page @solfishticated, while more information about Icona Pop can be found on their Instagram page @iconapop or their website iconapop.com.
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