We Went There: Kamaiyah at Icehouse

That feeling of unbridled joy is one I don’t feel at concerts as much as I used to when I was younger. Maybe it is the demystification after hundreds of shows, with higher and higher expectations? Maybe it is getting older, and the grind of the car always breaking down, the bills piling up and the relentless pressures of capitalism wearing on your spirit? Certainly Donald Trump and his idiot band of criminals, along with the general awfulness of modern society, haven’t helped the cause.

Whatever the cause may be, the ailment went out the window the moment Kamaiyah and her hype man bound onstage for a truly impassioned and joyful set at Icehouse Thursday evening as part of the Red Bull Sound Select series. Starting off with her new feel-good anthem “Build You Up,” the set was a triumph of talent, spirit and good vibes at a time when good vibes are more needed than ever. Set highlights included many of the tracks from her standout LP Good Night in the Ghetto , including album highlights “Out the Bottle” and “I’m On.”. But the real highlight was — what else — the pure bliss of “How Does it Feel,” which sent the crowd into pure rapture when the opening beat pulsed through the speakers.

Overall the set was pretty upbeat (one downbeat jam broke up the rally, but even that had an infectious spirit), with Kamaiyah telling the crowd how excited she was to be at such a small show. The crowd clearly felt the same way. It was amazing to see her in such a small venue and was a spellbinding, fun and powerful performance. I think the folks who were in attendance will look back when Kamaiyah is taking over the world and remember fondly this great show, and feel lucky we saw her in such an intimate setting.

The show started with a great set by local artist Sophia Eres, who brought her finely-tuned blend of hip-hop, soul and R&B to set to the stage for a strong 30 minutes set that set the tone for the evening. Following the local openers were (somewhat local) group Air Credits, who came up from Chicago for the show. The group somehow blended the goofiness of Dr. Octagon with the attitude of Death Grips, all wrapped in a package that, despite the fact that they could have coasted on their schitck, had strong songs at the basis. I’m interested in hearing more from them as their set definitely caught my attention. Kudos to the crew from Red Bull for pulling together this event, which just missed qualifying for my 2017.5 list, but will be near or at the top of my favorite shows of the year come December. And thanks to Kamaiyah for being so awesome.

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