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Kali Uchis: Genre Enigma Extraordinare



An extremely chilled October night on the docks overlooking the Toronto skyline, saw my best friend and I to walk into Rebel nightclub and experience Kali Uchis live. Opening with a spotlight tease illusion of her behind a curtain, swaying sultry hips to the instrumental intro of her song “Dead to Me”, she finally steps out from the curtain and onto the main stage where the crowd erupts and began sing-screaming along. Kali continued to twirl around the stage and perform various songs she’s written over the years before jumping into a fiery yet sweet Donna Summer song “I Feel Love” that made the crowd turn ballistic. Her high toned notes swirled through Rebel piercing the whole venue, before the band broke into an epic interlude that had Kali turn around and interpret the band’s solo into dance. There’s no real way to explain how she dances except for the simple fact that it is absolutely hypnotizing, there’s a simple way about it but it becomes obvious that only some people can create such entrancing movements out of so little.


Her being Colombian there are clear Latin dance influences however, merged with her impossible to tie down style of music, she has, in my opinion, single-handedly created a new type of performance and songwriting style that I am so ecstatic to be able to support and see live for myself. From the first time I randomly came across the song “Rush” years ago I was hooked, with her vocal style of Amy Winehouse, visual chameleon abilities much like Lady Gaga and then seeing her flawlessly perform a Donna Summers song to a new-age millennial crowd and to have them more than eat it up, I was, as I have been since day one, sufficiently impressed. Self-professed to have not been a singer until four years ago she has cultivated a style that is definitely unconventional from what we are hearing today, like a mixture of Lana Del Rey and Amy Winehouse I love to see her genius merging of these various blends to make her own phenomenally raw and real lyrics come to life.


The majority of her show consisted of songs from her latest album Isolation, and following her impeccable Donna Summers cover, she jumped into one of my favourite tracks off this album “Tyrant” and during the part where Jorja Smith features her own verse, Kali and her band transitioned into another full band interlude that is made just for the live show which saw more sensual dancing to be hypnotized by. These interludes coupled with her dancing are most definitely my favourite parts of this live show as they are unique and created just for us to see with epic shredding electric guitar and killer drum solos I did not expect. Post “Tyrant” they flew into her adorable song “Flight 22” and from there she gave us a brief introduction to where the song “Loner” came from and how it relates to her feelings about someone that desperately wanting to be in her life and proved themselves to be not worth it, and how she realized she would much rather be alone. It is a phenomenally addictive yet sad song that I find myself singing out of context on the regular, however, in honesty I find that to be the same sentiment about almost all of her songs. She is a lyrical mastermind that can put a catchy pop song together with ease and sing it in a way that only she can, and perform it live in a way that only she can.


The remainder of the show consisted of more of that same recipe, she performed her hits like “Nuestro Planeta”, “Miami” and “After the Storm” that never ceased to get the crowd amped up. She peppered in some of her infamous moves like her back bend that literally had the crowd screaming, as well as serving us some more explanations behind some of these songs that we all know and love. “Your Teeth in My Neck” for example, she gave us the backstory and began with referring to her growing up in a Colombian household, how she has been working since she was a young teenager and how unfair it is that we all work so hard our whole lives barely getting by while giant corporations continuously take from us. The crowd erupted, applauding with agreeance and then she swung into that song.


To this day, I still find myself gushing about this woman and how proud I am of her. Not just for being around my age and manifesting success, but for the success she has found in her own craft. She writes and performs her own songs in such a unique way that she has essentially created and defined her own genre. When I try to pigeon hole her as an artist I realize how futile it is, because just choosing one would be a disservice to her, she has proven to be able to more than juggle genres flawlessly. I am so glad I got to see her live and experience what she has to offer, especially with her band being able to provide those amazing interludes to compliment what Kali does on stage. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute of it and will be supporting this badass babe until the end.