Words: Ellie McIntyre // Photos: Christina Morgan
On a warm and breezy night, right at the turn of summer, Norway-based artist Aurora Aksnes, known as AURORA, opened her set at Summer Stage just as she opened her album, Infections of a Different Kind (Step II), with the first track on the list, River. To call Aurora’s songs “tracks” feels like a crime, since her music is more reminiscent of small stories of triumphant, graceful, and mythical creatures that begin to weave into an overarching fantasy novel touching on the themes of the playfulness, otherworldliness and often-times darkness of humankind’s interaction with the earth and with each other. The crowd was comfortable as they could be at the end of a long Saturday in Central Park, but the more Aurora traversed the stage, the more the audience realized that she was calling out for them to do the same. Each concert-goer was especially lively during one of her newer songs “Temporary High” from The Gods We Can Touch, also the name of this 2022 tour. The song alone is a synth pop fight song with a touch of 80s drama, that when performed live was soaked with magenta and teal lights. There were plenty of laughs in between her songs as she would talk about seemingly any thought that popped into her head, like how baby carrots are unappealing because they are essentially tiny orange baby fingers.
Even though Aurora has those high highs, she knows how to take us to the low-lows, with songs like A Dangerous Thing where she sings of an experience with a fearful character, that we often see in real-life abusive relationships. She then shared how although we experience such hurt and heartache, it is still possible to be a beacon of love, as she does with Exist for Love, a melodic siren song that is an outpouring of the contents of her heart.
It’s clear that Aurora knows her audience, they identify with her, and easily relate to her free-spirited nature, so as she whips out the underdog anthems Queendom and Heathens, she had us all wrapped around her fingers and tenderly orchestrated us to move. Closing the concert, she chose to bring it all back to a place of togetherness with some slower songs and lighter notes like with Infections of a Different Kind, off of the album of the same name, which undoubtedly broke the hearts of everyone in attendance. She even went as far as pointing out the perfect crescent moon that became most visible at the conclusion of the show.