More Than Just “Barbie Girl”: Aqua Brings Fun And Life To The Fillmore


“Who Let The Dogs Out?” by Baha Men. “Blue (Da Ba Dee)” by Eiffel 65. “Groove Is in the Heart” by Deee-Lite. Do you see where I’m going here? To most of you, these were probably some one-hit wonders from the 90s. They are probably band names you only know because of the songs that took over for a short amount of time. A flash in the pan, no lasting power. We’ve seen it a million times and then some. Honestly, before Wednesday night, I would have added “Barbie Girl” by Aqua into that mix but, after seeing the group perform at The Fillmore in Minneapolis, I feel like it’s so unfair to call them a one-hit wonder.

Before we talk about the massive headliner of the night, let’s get into the two openers that got the night started off right starting with NOVUL. As soon as NOVUL took the stage with two dancers behind her, I was captivated. The music was very pop with sides that would lean into the hip-hop vein of things and others that felt a bit more EDM. Long story short, the music wasn’t quite my thing yet I couldn’t take my eyes off this stage. NOVUL was a dynamic character on stage with a huge presence that was only enhanced by the flawless dancing being done by her and the two beautiful ladies behind her. Although stylistically she wasn’t quite my thing, I would be lying if I said she didn’t have me bopping around to her infectious beats by the end of her quick time on stage.

Following NOVUL was another quick set from VASSY. Hailing from Australia, I was a bit surprised to see the audience’s reaction as VASSY took the stage. Maybe it was because NOVUL had done such a stunning job warming up the audience or maybe I’ve been living under a rock not knowing anything about VASSYbut the audience was thrilled as she took the stage and jumped into her set. Like NOVUL, VASSY’s sound leaned into the pop and EDM world. Infectious beats that vibrated throughout the venue were loud and nose-ring-vibrating but there were also tracks that showed a bit of a softer side of this songstress. She admitted that the audience didn’t quite seem like the type to be into a more laid-back song or anything like that but she still wanted to do it. Although some of the more ballad-like songs that VASSY performed definitely seemed to drop the energy a wee bit, there was still a sense of energy that flowed throughout the venue.

I honestly have so much more I could say about both NOVUL and VASSY but, the truth is, I am so stoked to tell you about (and selfishly relive) Aqua’s set. Again, you know the name and, with Barbiemania having hit just a couple of months ago, you are probably re-sick of their hit song “Barbie Girl” but I’m here to tell you that this Denmark-based group is so much more than that one hit single and they proved that during their quick yet amazing set on Wednesday night.

First, a little background. Aqua has been around since 1995. They have taken man breaks throughout the years but have been together again since 2016. They have released three albums over the span of their career but their 1997 release ‘Aquarium’ which contained “Barbie Girl” was definitely their biggest. Although to the normal person (and that includes me), this band was only a one-hit wonder, it was clear that many of the people in the audience had gone deep into this band and were beyond excited to finally have a chance to see them perform live. Even though Aqua got big back in the late 90’s, this is the first time they have ever toured in the United States which just added to the excitement of the night. Whether you got wrapped up in Barbiemania, were a legitimate fan of Aqua, or were just at The Fillmore on Wednesday night to check out the show for fun, there was no way you were able to avoid the excitement as the band took the stage.

With music videos playing behind them (when there was a music video to play) and plenty of smiles across the stage that were mirrored by the smiles in the audience, I felt like Aqua’s set was moving at warped speed. Honestly, it was a pretty quick show with the band only gracing the stage for about an hour and a half but the amount of fun and energy in the air made it seem even quicker than that. I was in the minority where I didn’t know any of the songs being played but standing there and watching people dance and sing their way through song after song had me kicking myself in the butt for not spending more time with this band.

Their sound is very Euro-pop. It’s fun and dancy with infectious beats and a sense of energy that makes you almost see lights instead of music notes (okay, that’s a bit obscure of me to say but I just have no better way of describing it). Sure, their music is way out of left field for me but the fun of it all was not above me. Beyond the music were the people behind it. From the three main original members (vocalists René Dif and Lene Nystrøm, and keyboardist Søren Rasted) to the backing band and two amazing support vocalists, every member of this band seemed to form a quick connection with the audience. For some reason, I had it in my mind that Aqua’s performance was going to be stiff and it would be like watching a band just going through the motions so I was a bit surprised when Lene and René jumped from the stage to the barricade between the stage and audience to sing a song. It was a simple move that a lot of musicians do but it just really changed the game for me when it came to this band to see this connection come to life.

Aqua played through seventeen songs with a one-song encore. I had assumed my favorite part was going to be when the band performed “Barbie Girl” but, honestly, the performance was so much more than that one song which absolutely warmed my heart. I will never again call Aqua a one-hit wonder (or at least will try not to but old habits die hard) after seeing them create pure magic on stage right in front of me. I’m not sure Aqua will tour the country again but, if they do, I highly suggest you go check it out if only to have a night full of colors and fun energy highlighted by music of years gone by that was overshadowed by a single hit. Aqua didn’t get the respect they deserved as a band but I hope that doing this tour and showing people that they are so much more than that one song is a step in the right direction.