Kali Uchis: A Night of Firsts

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Kali Uchis: A Night of Firsts

Miguel Wilson

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Photo by Miguel Wilson

It was around two years ago when I miraculously happened upon Kali Uchis. Then, she was being promoted as the “spicy Amy Winehouse.‰” Thankfully, today she is being held in her own category. To say the least, it has been so rewarding to see her grow throughout her musical journey, and finally get the recognition she deserves. Her performance on Tuesday, October 17 at U Street Music Hall, just so happened to be her very first performance in Washington, D.C. Ironically, this venue held the very first concert she ever attended.

U Street was packed for a sold out show. The audience was filled with devoted Uchis fans clad in their finest garb. A group new to me, Phony Ppl opened for her, and I was pleasantly surprised by their set. From having us chant “Sex-ay, Bae-bae,‰” to basically having a duet with my friend Elbee Thrie, the vocalist for the group, kept us entertained. The aforementioned duet was a track titled “Somehow,‰” and I was truly taken aback by the lyricism and versatility of this band; I‰’ll be sure to look out for them in the future.

Like that second plate at a Thanksgiving feast, her set was deliberately curated; showcasing both old and new material. When Kali took to the stage, it was like I sat my butt down at the table. She opened with “Speed”, a fast paced song, off her first EP, Por Vida. Like a new recipe of mac and cheese, her newer hits, “Tyrant” and “Nuestro Planeta,” were met eagerly by everyone. A true testament to her roots in 70‰’s and 80‰’s soul music, Kali also took us way back and served up a beautiful rendition of Al Green‰’s “Let‰’s Stay Together.‰” We were even treated to the bountiful dessert that is her unreleased material, a song that states “you are your own hero,‰” which she specifically asked the audience not to record. She kept us engaged all the way to the very end with a lively showing of “Ridin Round‰” followed by a well received encore, “Suavemente.”

I was truly taken aback. With each twirl and wind of her body I think we all just fell under her spell. Even though she is well into her tour, and she‰’s been open about her struggle with her vocals, Kali put on an A1 performance. Every song she performed sounded comparable–or even better–than a lot of her recorded material.

What I loved most about this venue was the fact that they really kept the show intimate. Even though we weren‰’t right up against the stage, I felt we were plenty close to the performers. For me it was one of the most interactive shows I have ever attended. For instance, I personally don‰’t think I‰’ve ever been so excited to possibly receive a sweaty towel, but she tossed three into the crowd. I honestly contemplated risking it all for a piece of cloth—that‰’s how incredible this concert was. I mean how many concerts have you been to that have an unexpected lesbian wedding proposal mid-set?

It was truly breathtaking to take in the sights and sounds of someone like Uchis, who is truly a visionary in her field. I knew when I first heard her music that she was going to be something big. I think I speak for everyone when I say thank you to U Street Music Hall for opening its doors to this wonderful artist and giving us the opportunity to bask in her artistry.

Sidenote: special shoutout to the general manager at @uhalldc, Ken for being the GOAT!