In August of last year, New Zealand native Kimbra, released her second full-length album, The Golden Echo. When I originally saw the Coachella line-up I was so sad that she would be there and not at Sasquatch (I bought my tickets in November). In fact, Kimbra was really the only act at I wanted to see at Coachella this year because let’s be real, the line-up was kind of terrible. There was so much EDM on the list that I was confused as to whether it was Coachella I was looking at or Tomorrowland. I mean, I like going to EDM shows as much as the next person but when I go to a festival like Coachella that’s not what I’m looking for.
Anyways, back to what’s important, back to Kimbra. If you aren’t familiar with her, get familiar. You have probably listened to her and didn’t realize it. She’s the female vocalist on Gotye’s “Somebody that I Used to Know.” Gotye exploded onto the scene with that song and I love him, but Kimbra is ten times as talented.
Monday (4/13) I had the pleasure of seeing Kimbra live for the first time at The Neptune in Seattle. Although The Golden Echo is a solid album, her first album Vows just kills it for me. If you are just now getting into Kimbra, listen to Vows first. I am sad I wasn’t able to see her on the Vows tour but I knew that she would play lots of stuff from her old album as well as her new one so I was beyond excited for the Monday show.
My expectations were HIGH for Kimbra. Not only does she have an incredible voice and great song-writing talent, her clothes are my life. In fact, if I had to trade a life with someone (cause I wouldn’t unless I was forced) it would be Kimbra. Touring, getting’ funky, wearing bright colors, that’s the dream right there. Kimbra is known not only for her crazy costumes, but unique music videos as well. She doesn’t just entertain with her voice, she uses her body, her clothes, and the lighting to create an experience for the audience that they’ll be hard pressed to experience with any artist. Just like her music videos, Kimbra’s live shows are quirky, original and a little off the wall.
Mikky Ekko opened for Kimbra. I wasn’t familiar with any of his music except for the song “Stay” that he sings with Rihanna. He blew me away. Seriously, his voice was so powerful. He worked the crowd and although he was loud, it never felt shouty or screechy to me. Since the concert, I have looked up Mikky’s stuff and am sorry to say I wasn’t impressed. He plays it too safe in his recordings and I want to hear the raw beastly stuff that I witnessed at The Neptune. Sad the dude doesn’t take more vocal risks on his studio tracks.
When Kimbra took the stage it was dramatic just as you would guess. Dressed in a cape with a weird humanoid outline on it she melodramatically grabbed the mic to the sound of her fans (me included) screaming. Eventually taking her cape off to reveal a futuristic silver/metal skirt and crop top she was definitely fun to watch. Often appearing to be in her own world, Kimbra wiggled around stage, danced and was just goofy looking at times. I go gaga for that stuff but overall there was something missing. It was hard to place but I was slightly disappointed by the concert.
First of all, the woman needs back-up singers. There was a lot of back up track music played and I hated that. I come to a live show to hear live music, not recordings of backing music and vocals. Kimbra had a band with her but only bass, guitar, drums and piano. There was no horn section which was a real bummer. Speaking of the band, Kimbra was constantly looking at her band mates like they were messing up. Maybe it was nothing but it felt weird to me. I was always taught that the show must go and the audience should never know when stuff goes wrong. Another weird thing was that she kept pulling at and playing with her hair. Maybe it’s a wig and it was about to fall out? I don’t know but it was strange, especially since Kimbra’s persona is that she doesn’t care what people thinks, she isn’t afraid to be weird, yet she seemed very concerned about her hair.
All those issues were minor though. I love Kimbra because her voice is powerful and she uses it in a way that’s hard to describe. She does her own looping and in the live session I have watched on YouTube, she’s incredible. I always say “listen, this is where she goes nuts!” at some point during all of her songs. But I never felt like she was “going nuts” last Monday. I was especially stoked when she came back on stage for the encore and sang my favorite “Come into My Head.” On the recording she definitely “goes nuts” but I didn’t feel that power at this concert and she seemed hesitant to let herself go.
I described it later as if she was just playing around with her band in a garage instead of playing to a crowd. Weirdly enough, she posted a similar caption on Instagram in reference to the show. I mean, she’s Kimbra so she was still great and still is one of the best female vocalists out there in my opinion. Perhaps my expectations were too high, but I felt a little let down.
Regardless, Kimbra is impressive ad well worth the money if you get the chance to see her. I may have romanticized what I thought a Kimbra performance should entail. Be sure to check out some of her music videos and give her a listen if you are unfamiliar. She’s uber cool and super talented.