Kali Uchis turns Isolation into community at the TLA - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart
Kali Uchis | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren | koofibi.com

Kali Uchis blessed the TLA this week on the last leg of her tour. The 24 year old Colombian-American singer is coming off of a great few years of releases and collaborations. Her 2017 included features with Gorillaz, Tyler the Creator, Miguel, Bootsy Collins, and Daniel Caesar, with a Grammy nomination for her performance and co-writing of “Get You.” This year saw the release of her debut studio album Isolation and the In Your Dreams Tour with Gabriel Garzon-Montano, which came to the TLA on Monday night.

Gabriel Garzon-Montano | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren | koofibi.com

Gabriel and his band opened the show with music from 2017’s Jardin and 2014’s Bishoune: Alma Del Huila, setting a bilingual precedent for the evening and serving as a perfect aperitif to the headliner. Keyboard and synth heavy tracks like “Fruitflies” have dark-hopfulness to them while Gabriel’s falsetto soars over top.

“A million pairs of feet, getting weak

We are all so tired of walking

But we can’t find the way back home”

The piano & rhodes on “Crawl” bounce like it’s the 60’s, with heavy bass that remind you that you’re living in the future. The bands sound is reminiscent of neo-soul movement and clearly influenced, if indirectly, by D’Angelo. (Actually, listen to Jardin, then Black Messiah by D’Angelo. They could be brothers.)

Kali Uchis | photo by Koof Ibi Umoren | koofibi.com

Kali’s band took the stage to play an extended intro to “Dead To Me,” as Kali appeared, backlit behind a screen, in poses that would make I Dream of Jeannie jealous. “Nuestro Planeta,” a track featuring Reykon of Latin American Reggaeton fame, continued the bilingual theme of the night, as the Philadelphia audience had no trouble singing along with every word in Spanish. When the intro to “Tyrant” came on, I wasn’t sure if would be the english version with Jorja Smith or the version in Spanish,“Tirano,” which features deeper harmonies on the chorus and a verse by “trap-en-espanol prince” Fuego.

Switching the tone slightly, Uchis performed her only cover of the night, the disco track “I Feel Love,” originally by performed Donna Summers in 1977. This detour was a perfect middle ground to the upbeat synth-pop of “In My Dreams” and the driving funk of “Your Teeth In My Neck.”

Kali subverted my expectations by only playing the first verse and chorus of my personal favorite track “Flight 22,” before moving on to other crowd favorite like “After the Storm,” and “Just a Stranger,” where she allowed the audience to fill in verse by Tyler the Creator and Steve Lacy. The live band did a great job recreating the work of the Dap Kings on “Killer,” which Kali wrote when she was 17. Also on the setlist was “Loner” from 2015’s Por Vida, with the crowd-requested “Ridin’ Round” as an encore.

Check out photos from both sets in the gallery below.

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