Rita Ora At The Viper Room
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By Lindsay Gabler
West Hollywood, Calif.
Any time there is an opportunity to visit a small venue to check out an up-and-coming buzz artist in Los Angeles, I'm always game, and I was particularly excited about this show. There are a handful of new artists on the music scene each year who fill the Twitter timelines and blogosphere; for me, Rita Ora has been that artist as of late. Ora is a British singer/songwriter signed to Jay-Z's Roc Nation label, and she has already topped the charts in the UK with the single "Hot Right Now." You might also recognize her from her music video cameos in Jay-Z's "Forever Young" and Drake's "Over." Now she is carving out a place for herself in the United States.
As I pulled up to the Viper Room in West Hollywood, Calif., a crowd was starting to form at the front entrance. Upon entering the room, it was obvious right away who was performing as Ora's name was displayed prominently in bright-blue lights at the back of the stage. It seemed to only take a few minutes before the rest of the concertgoers piled in and packed the Viper Room shoulder to shoulder.
As the band started playing, a bubbly blonde girl jumped onstage and took over the night. The set opener spoke for itself with the aptly titled song "Facemelt" — it was clear Ora was ready to rock with a stage presence and energy that filled the room. Soon after the song ended she informed the crowd that this was her first showcase performance in Los Angeles and thanked everyone for coming. She then immediately launched into "Roc The Life" as she made her way through the song head banging and belting the tune at the top of her lungs. Ora definitely has strong pipes, there's no denying that. Following the high-energy performance, she brought it back down a bit with the reggae-influenced "Shine Your Light."
Ora explained that she recently had the opportunity to sing the next song for the first time in front of her idol. As the band slowly played, I soon realized she was going into a cover of Destiny's Child's "Say My Name." It turned into a sing-a-long as everyone joined in singing the GRAMMY-winning anthem. She then led us into the high-energy "Hot Right Now," ending with a rowdy round of applause from the crowd. When Ora introduced the next song, "R.I.P," she let us in on the fun-fact that the song was co-written by Drake.
Ora closed the set by thanking everyone for coming and introduced her final song and first single in the United States, "How We Do (Party)." The song samples Notorious B.I.G.'s hip-hop anthem "Party And Bulls***," and Ora began the song with the Biggie track before transitioning into the single. The song is very catchy as I could not get it out of my head for the rest of the night. It just might be a contender for my summer song of 2012.
As the set ended, the crowd was more than pleased as the music kept playing and Ora exited the stage. As I looked to my right, I could tell there was a crowd starting to form. After peeking my head around a few people, I saw Ora posing for a picture with none other than Mr. "American Idol" himself, Aerosmith frontman Steven Tyler, who was in attendance at the showcase. What a way to end a Los Angeles debut.
"Roc The Life"
"Shine Your Light"
"Say My Name" (Destiny's Child cover)
"Hot Right Now"
"How We Do (Party)"