Kimbra At Metro Chicago

  • Kimbra
    Photo: The Recording Academy

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By Cassie Negron

If you have heard Gotye's smash hit "Somebody That I Used To Know," then you may be familiar with New Zealand native Kimbra Johnson, who contributes the powerful female lead vocal. Now, Kimbra is making a name for herself by headlining her first U.S. tour to promote her debut album, Vows.

Outside the Metro on Oct. 17, fans patiently waited in the pouring Chicago rain for the doors to open. The Metro is one of Chicago's premier underground venues and is credited for helping to launch the careers of Chicagoans Liz Phair, Smashing Pumpkins and Veruca Salt.

Kimbra bounced onstage wearing an eclectic purple-and-green costume reminiscent of both Miss Chiquita and a fairy-tale princess. Her full grass skirt moved feverishly as she danced, creating incredible energy for the crowd to feed off. Kimbra smiled brightly as she sang "Limbo," an upbeat jam built from various vocal loops. Inspired by the looping techniques of Björk and Radiohead's Thom Yorke, Kimbra utilized her voice as an instrument to create soulful harmonies and percussive accents. The audience became part of the performance as they clapped along to the beat.

While Kimbra's influences are eclectic, I couldn't help but particularly notice the sultry, jazzy phrasing in her voice. These soulful talents were showcased during a cover of Nina Simone's "Plain Gold Ring."

When she wasn't captivating the audience between songs with her sweet personality and infectious accent, Kimbra was moving around the stage with a natural sense of control and sex appeal. It very much reminded me of the stage prowess exhibited by Florence Welch of Florence & The Machine.

Once Kimbra left the stage, the crowd went ear-piercingly wild for an encore. The singer obliged with the ballad "Withdraw" and the soulful funk jam "Call Me," the latter of which featured the Stepkids, who opened the concert earlier that evening with their indie funk tunes and psychedelic visuals.

At 22, Kimbra is not your typical pop star. She doesn't use choreography or pyrotechnics to enhance her performance, and she doesn't need them. With a voice that is way beyond her years, Kimbra's future appears bright.

To catch Kimbra in a city near you, click here for tour dates.

(Cassie Negron is a student at Columbia College Chicago studying arts, entertainment and media management with a concentration in music business. She attended GRAMMY Camp in 2010 as a participant in the Concert Promotion and Production track. She currently writes her own music blog and works at the House of Blues in Chicago as a sales associate for retail and band merchandise.) 

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