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K. Flay Live at the Commodore Ballroom

Tuesday 23rd, January 2018 / 15:33
By Alan Ranta

Photo By Timothy Nguyen

Commodore Ballroom
January 21

Still touring on the back of Every Where Is Some Where, released in early 2017, the fact that K.Flay sold-out the Commodore on a drizzly Sunday, along with its two recent Grammy nominations, shows the breakout album deserves a victory lap.

Joining her on this tour was Los Angeles-based alternative pop band Sir Sly. Much like K.Flay, this trio has been attacking the charts with a couple albums and a few hot singles under their belt.

Photo By Timothy Nguyen

Performing in front of a giant, veiny, glowing brain, frontman Landon Jacobs seemed in a gracious mood, expressing gratitude at being taken out on the road with good people who treat them well. Before “High,” their biggest single to date, he noted that B.C. bud is good stuff, although perhaps not the best, the gall of which elicited some booing, but he saved it by saying he would like to do more testing to confirm his opinion.

Their sound was like a more pop-oriented Alt-J, nuanced electronic rock with Jacobs channeling a weird wale of a singing style comparable to Joe Newman. They’ve got mad style, with choice hooks and programming, but their combined display of musicianship between electric guitar and drums left a dissipating impression, perhaps overly on-beat. It would be nice to see them loosen up a bit, break up some beats.

Photo By Timothy Nguyen

With a bigger lighting rig and her three-piece band on risers behind her, K.Flay wasted no time digging into her genre-defying hip-hop-tinged art-rock/alt-pop set, the majority of which was expectedly drawn from Every Where Is Some Where.

Born as Kristine Meredith Flaherty in Illinois, K.Flay employed plaintive hand gestures as her slick, dark hair passionately draped across her face, yet she seemed distant for the first few tracks. She didn’t really dig her heels into the moment until “Dreamers,” wherein she beat her chest as she yelled the refrain, “I want more.” She carried that momentum through the uptempo flows on “Can’t Sleep,” “Champagne” and mamma’s basement track “So Fast, So Maybe.” Flaherty had to catch her breath after the latter, as she introduced her worthy support: multi-instrumentalist producer JT Daly, guitarist Josh Lippi, and drummer Will Baldocchi.

Photo By Timothy Nguyen

K.Flay has an impish rasp of a voice like you might imagine a young Janis Joplin forging her raw emotion into crisp flows rather than bluesy screams. A fantastic performer with superb pacing, she tightened her grasp on the party as her set went on. She toasted tequila as she dedicated “Wishing It Was You” to all the loveless bastards, yet she was contrastingly tender on her familial ballad “Mean It,” centered on her voice and a synth. She hit a wide range, and most of it stuck the landing.

Photo By Timothy Nguyen

While her band often literally and figuratively faded into the shadows behind her, they made their presence felt when needed. They hit hard, and dazzled a little flash to take it over the top, but K.Flay clearly commanded the focus herself, as she should. Get woke to her voice and vision, lest you be left behind.

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