SHOW REVIEW: Kimbra @ the Aratani Theatre

Photo credit:    LA Mag

Photo credit: LA Mag

My favourite Kimbra performance to date is probably the one where she sings “Good Intent” in the studio, in simlish. Yes, the Sims language. You can tell how passionate she is about everything she does in that performance, one that was uploaded to YouTube seven years ago. I have known about Kimbra ever since I was emotionally invested in a different band, Foster the People, in my early days of band fandom (bandom?). She was the opener on a tour I never attended, but tracked religiously on tumblr. 15-year-old me’s first reactions to Kimbra were:

1. WOW she has the coolest style

2. OH MAN she can sing

3. WHY am I not going to any of these shows.

Between then and now, I did manage to see Foster the People play a show but never Kimbra. Not until now!

In the heart of Little Tokyo lies a small venue called the Aratani Theatre that I never knew existed. A weird spot to have a show, but why not? We entered, and I honestly felt like I was in a high school auditorium. But that didn’t matter, because I was going to see Kimbra! After a bit of waiting, the opener, Spencer Zahn, came onstage and lulled the audience with some ambient neo-classical pieces. With Zahn on the double bass, he was accompanied by keys (which included strumming grand piano strings and an analog synth), and a violinist. After a long and hard week, it was really nice and relaxing to be sent into a meditative state on a Friday night by chill af music.

Next up was Kimbra. Not really listening to her much since her debut Vows, I was not sure what to expect. When she walked out in a statement dress and huge platforms, I had a good feeling she was not going to disappoint. She started her set with “The Magic Hour,” a bonus track off of her second album The Golden Echo. This show gave me major Postmodern Jukebox and Amy Winehouse vibes as she featured many of her best known songs with new stripped down, jazzy arrangements. Since the only other musicians on stage with Kimbra were Spencer Zahn on standup bass and Zach Tenorio on piano, it gave her soulful voice a chance to really shine. I especially loved hearing her version of Nina Simone’s “Plain Gold Ring” as she showed off her bubbly stage presence and interacted with the audience.

Although Kimbra expressed her nerves to the audience, it really didn’t seem like she was nervous. She even performed a rarity that she wrote when she was 18 called “Withdraw,” which really demonstrated the talented songwriter she was (and still is) at such a young age. It was also amazing to hear many of her newer songs with stripped down arrangements, because the whole set list sounded so cohesive. Kimbra’s encore was “Cameo Lover,” a favorite from Vows, and with her charisma, she had the audience on their feet singing along. Overall, her intimate, reimagined evening reflected the same spirit she’s had since the start of her career, and I think it may have been even better than her simlish performance.

— Hannah Kovensky and Mica Nafshun-Bone, DJs

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