Kristeen Young's performance last night at The Hotel Cafe was nothing short of amazing.
A little back story here. Kristeen Young is one of the new generation of DIY recording artists melding technology and talent in a most elegant way. Her act used to be just her, keyboard, sequencer, and a drummer (affectionately referred to as "Baby Jeff"). Since her drummer had a baby and is now out of the picture, it's just her, keyboard and sequencer.
It's all her up there. Literally.
Last night was the third of a four show "residency" at The Hotel Cafe and having seen almost the whole residency, (there is one show left on May 24 - don't miss it) it's amazing to see her transform from roadie to Kristeen. Technically very proficient, she sets up her own gear and that's part of her DIY charm. From what I understand, she even creates her own wardrobe.
Whatever keyboard she uses, she's a master of that particular model. In addition to her torture of that poor keyboard (I'll bet the keyboard secretly enjoys it though), her feet are going as well, activating damper pedals, and whatever other stuff she has going on down there. She ekes sounds out of that thing during a single tune that create a palette that never gets old. It can't because it's constantly changing.
It's amazing that it's just her and her gear. You would think to yourself, "how big could she possibly sound?". All I can say is get out of the way, or at least hold on when she transforms from roadie to Kristeen.
You're going to get killed by a wall of sound. O, but what a way to go.
Most of her show during this residency has been made up of songs from her new EP "V the Volcanic" which is seven songs based on the supporting characters from seven films. A bio on her website explains this in great detail and it's fascinating. The EP is terrific, but we'll save that for another review.
She needs to be seen live.
Last night's show was kind of interesting as the first part of the show was fraught with technical difficulties including: a fall (yes, and she kept singing - no - belting it out from the floor), microphone falls, and a complete microphone outage.
I've never seen a performer so ELEGANTLY deal with so much in the first few minutes of a show. Like a warrior she shook it off and came back to the battle even stronger!
Her vocal performances (especially on the "torch songs" ) "Why Can't it Be Me?, and "Everybody Wants Me to Cry" were the high points of the evening. Kristeen's voice assaulted the room with a confidence and power that left the audience spontaneously breaking into applause on more than one occasion.
She looked like she was having a TERRIFIC time up on that stage as well. And why shouldn't she. It was HER room and she knew it. Her stretched out her tongue roll at the end of "Touch Tongues" was just one of the "tidbits of tension" that she sprinkled into her performance. We were hers and she was teasing us in the most delicious way.
They say that performers have nights of magic.
Last night at the Hotel Cafe was surely one of those nights.