On Monday night, Brooklyn was hyped up by the presence of the soulful and energetic Kimbra. It was a free show at the Music Hall of Williamsburg, put on by Steve Madden, featuring the New Zealand starlet and her opener, Empress Of.
From the outside the venue appeared small and a bit run down, but we quickly learned not to judge a book by its cover. The interior was spacious, complete with a good sized pit, elevated standing on the sides, reserved balcony tables, a bar, and even a lounge area in the basement. The crowd was very chill and as the place filled up you could tell there was a decent amount of people there, but it was not overwhelming and we settled in for a fun night.
Empress Of opened with a strong beat that got hearts pounding and heads bobbing. With only three people on stage, Empress Of was incredibly captivating. Lead singer, Lorely Rodriguez, certainly had the vocal chops, as well. In retrospect she was truly a preview of what we were to get when Kimbra finally took the stage. Empress Of played for a good half hour, maintaining a hypnotic electric energy. I was so captivated, in fact, that it wasn’t until the third or fourth song that I realized there was no guitarist. Empress Of worked solely with her drummer, keyboardist, and Rodriguez’s own voice to bring her music to life.
At times the beat could almost be too much, especially given Rodriguez’s talent. I found myself wanting them to tone it down ever so slightly so I could hear more of her clean, crisp voice. In a way, she was hindered by the electronica of her sound. Still, I was impressed, and my favorite song by far was about needing and loving yourself first. The music was not only fun, but the lyrics were also empowering, giving Empress Of real potential.
When it was finally time for Kimbra, everyone was highly anxious and excited. There was a lot of built up anticipation from the stage, where she was clearly lingering. Then she emerged, decked out in a wide, feathered robe that she quickly removed to show off her classic black hair, red lipstick, and a dress that looked to be made of metal, putting her in league with the likes of Katy Perry and Lady Gaga.
Instantly the crowd was ablaze. The energy from the full band was thrilling musically, but the true energy came from Kimbra herself. You could tell how much she loves to be on stage, with her giant grin and eccentric dancing, not to mention the power and soul she packs behind her incredible voice. Singing live can often be a true test of an artist, but with Kimbra, there was no question that she is a genuine, born-to-sing musician. Her range is flawless as she pours everything into her performance.
Kimbra’s new single, “’90s Music,” was the initial song that spurred the crowd into action, drawing attention to the diverse range of people and ages that Kimbra attracts. Some of the best songs of the night were “Settle Down,” “Carolina,” “Mad House,” and “Cameo Lover.” Time and again you could feel how one with the music Kimbra becomes, often in an almost awe-inspiring way.
Kimbra truly is a rare gem of talent and I highly recommend seeing her live. She drew a great crowd, but deserves even more recognition. She is still out on tour and recently released a new album, The Golden Echo, which you can download here.