Honesty and Intimacy: Kimbra brings Valentine's Day blessings to Philly - WXPN | Vinyl At Heart

On Valentine’s Day, an audience at World Cafe Live had a date with Kimbra. This wouldn’t be a surface level, what’s-your-favorite-color kind of date, she assured; we were going to dig deep. Wednesday night’s show was defined by powerhouse vocals, opener Tei Shi and Kimbra alike, and empowering messages to independent artists.

To say less, Kimbra’s AReckoning Philly debut wasn’t like any date the crowd had probably been on.

Tei Shi | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

Tei Shi didn’t hold back, saying her fight to get paid for her music and frustrations was a huge inspiration in her new material. She performed the sparkling R&B track “Bad Premonition,” one of several singles leading up to an EP release in mid March.

Searingly, she san: “I went looking for an answer, Came back with a couple notes, Got a taste of what I’m after, No forgetting what I saw, uh huh.”

“Salty” with LA pop singer Ella Vos, just four days old, was also performed, the undeniable tension of a reckoning of her own, felt like it was radiating off her back with each immovable note.

Tei Shi was also playful, flirty and seductive in ways that seemed true, she was magnetic. And the high note Tei Shi hit in “How Far,” off her first full length Crawl Space, left the crowd picking up their jaws from the World Cafe Live floor.

Kimbra | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

Kimbra intensely glided to the microphone center stage to the wire-y tone that sets off “save me,” the first track of A Reckoning. The crowd started cheering louder, to then seemed be cut like a knife with the first few words sung by Kimbra and the sudden flash of a single spotlight.

Be it strobe, a perfectly timed spotlight or rich color gradient, all of it served a purpose and was stunning. The intricate light choreography permeated through Kimbra’s set, identifying her determination, and vulnerability; her intentions were crystal clear and forward moving.

“gun”, the third track off A Reckoning, is one of Kimbra’s messages, or warnings, about how the entertainment industry feels and frustrations. Later, “la type” paints pale pictures of the industry too, albeit it delivered in a more funky style with Kimbra on guitar, basking in the solos on Valentines Day.

Kimbra | photo by Megan Matuzak for WXPN

Kimbra took time between songs to speak of love and the different kinds. She told World Cafe Live about how her songs sometimes feel like prophecies coming true, always writing with the future in mind. “foolish thinking” is one like that, she notes she’s not a mother herself, she wrote about that level of love and the reality of kids making their own decisions.

“I don’t really have any authority on the manner,” she joked mid thought.

Being led by the hands through AReckoning gave a feeling of intimacy, a look into the mind of an artist that blesses audiences with masterful sampling and improvisation as well as dynamic and unique vocalizations.

Kimbra went back in time during her set to perform “Settle Down” from 2011’s Vows, which is classically just her voice. As she would add at the end of the performance, she rarely plays it the same way and it gets even weirder every time.

The crowd almost lost their mind when Kimbra also folded in “Top of the World” mid-Reckoning, loudly singing along, which fueled Kimbra as she conquered the length of the stage cheering everyone on.

As Kimbra and her band walked off stage at the end, hand-sized red construction paper hearts were being handed down the row.A little on the nose, but cutely so, Kimbra and the band played “Cameo Lover”, also from Vows, as the hearts bounced in the audience.

Kimbra chose to end on a more somber note with “Version of Me” from Primal Heart, a song about striving for a better self and asking the one you love to see that vision. It was the coda through all the different loves she spoke about throughout Valentines Night at World Cafe Live, most importantly, it was a hopeful one.

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