“ANDREA, WHERE YOU AT?”
“What does DM stand for?”
“Damn, I am old.”
The New Parish is confusing. Upon entering the venue, there’s a hallway that leads towards an outdoor courtyard of sorts, where a predominantly young, diverse crowd gathered, smoking and/or drinking before the actual show. The energy was high, the buzz of conversation almost clamorous, to the point where random snippets of conversation (like the ones above) were impossible not to overhear.
Due to the setup of the courtyard, and also the fact that it was my first time at this venue and that I’m generally an oblivious person, I was completely at a loss of where the actual performance would be held. Part of me wondered if the concert would be held in the open space, and if so where could the stage possibly fit? Would they bring in a stage? Where would the artists come from?
But then at around 8:30, there was a huge shift towards this door that I didn’t know was a door, and everyone poured into this new area, with half of the crowd literally running up a spiral staircase and the other half literally running in the other direction — towards a stage. The dramatic reveal of the actual performance space mirrored the speakeasy ambience, with the hazy, smoke-filled (courtesy of a fog machine), blue-lit stage, accompanied by sultry jazz blaring from the speakers. By the time the opener came on, the audience was eager, buzzed, and a little too ready for the night to begin.
Phony Ppl, a Brooklyn-based R&B/soul group, got the audience moving with their syncopated, funky music and high-energy stage presence. Their whole set was incredibly uplifting, from the short optimistic monologues in between songs to dedicating a track to a member of the audience just because their friend pointed them out. Overall, they seemed pretty well-known amongst the crowd, but when they ended their set and asked if we were ready for Kali Uchis, it was pretty obvious who everyone really came to see.
Fast-forward an anxious half an hour later, a staff member emerged from the shadows beyond the stage with a mike stand entwined with flowers and an eruption of cheers sounded throughout the venue, as if they had seen the queen herself. There was a lot more chanting and a lot more waiting, but the moment Kali strolled up in her black silk dress, every phone in the crowd went up, almost as if they were afraid she’d disappear. Kali rolled through all of her hits, including “Speed,” “I Know What I Want,” “Ridin’ Round,” and “Loner,” alongside all the die-hard fans in the audience (the majority, actually) screaming the lyrics, unable to contain their excitement. Graceful and hypnotic, Kali twirled, swayed, and pranced around the stage, even singing newer hits like “Tyrant,” “Nuestro Planeta,” and a version of Tyler the Creator’s “See You Again,” in which she has a feature. Despite already playing a full set, Phony Ppl powered on as her backing band, displaying the same amount of infectious energy as they did in the beginning of the night. A cover of Rosie & The Originals’s “Angel Baby” was a soothing interlude in the midst of it all, and Kali capped the night off with a couple of songs in Spanish, (including a cover of Sabor a Mí) which, again, almost the entire audience sang along to: carefree, young, and blissfully happy to share this space with each other, even if only for the moment.
Articles & Photos by Vivian Chen