Kelela

NXNE ‘14 Report Card: Kelela @ Massey Hall

Saturday, June 21. Kelela’s second NXNE show revealed how dynamic a performer she really is.

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- Jun 22, 2014

Background/Composition: Last year her debut mixtape, Cut 4 Me, introduced the L.A.-based singer as a brilliant vocalist, one capable of channeling the most recent spacey, brainy, dance-music trends into something much warmer and affecting.

Kelela - Cut 4 Me [Prod. Kingdom]

Prescience: A

Kudos to NXNE for putting young, fresh performers in Massey Hall. That venue in particular is a rite of passage for many musicians, and it definitely has an effect on the way that we as Torontonians recognize and appreciate talent. Blue Rodeo are great and all, but it’s nice to see NXNE take chances and put performers in that space who aren’t quite part of that canon yet.

Do I Dance or Do I Sit?: A

From pretty much the first song she performed, she had us dancing in our seats. A couple of people couldn’t take it anymore and left their chosen spots to dance in the aisles. The audience continued to pour out into the aisles as her set went on, especially after Kelela offered her own approval of what they were doing.

On one hand, Kelela’s voice demands a space as large as Massey Hall, and if you really want to hear her music, there’s probably no better place in Toronto. On the other, the material on her mixtape features productions by a whos-who of dance music (Kingdom, Bok Bok, Nguzunguzu) and should be heard in a club. There’s no one place for Kelela’s music, proving her blend of soulful R&B and dance music has a dynamism to it capable of sustaining a long and rewarding career.

FINAL GRADE: A

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