by Angel Escobar
Embarking on her first nationwide tour, 23-year-old Kali Uchis has sold out several tour dates, including her first performance in Atlanta, on Oct. 13 at Center Stage Theater.
The Brooklyn-based group Phony Ppl has joined Uchis for her first headlining tour, which she announced in June of this year following the release of “Tyrant,” the first single off her debut studio album, which has been promised at a later date. As partners on this new journey, Phony Ppl are indeed the perfect opener and backing band for the uniquely talented Úchis.
The group brings their own eclectic sound, fusing neo-soul with hip-hop and future-R&B, that had the crowd jumping and begging for more. Their infectious high energy spread through the crowd, until everyone was grooving with the quintet. Though different genres, the shared influences between Phony Ppl and Úchis are easily identifiable and create a stage compatibility that makes for a seamless fusion of sounds.
Uchis captivated the audience as she first appeared on the stage’s only large prop, a set of stairs, humming the first bars of “Sycamore Tree” from her debut EP Por Vida. She set the mood with her signature drama and glamour, slowly descending the steps and swaying. As the show continues, Úchis raises and lowers the tempo, keeping time with her dancing and reacting to the crowd’s energy as they follow the lyrics.
Her soft voice is nothing short of sultry, even as Uchis admits to the crowd that she is fighting illness and is not at her peak performance. The lighting effects are timed perfectly for each song, switching from pink to blue to red and focus in on her continuous dancing. As an artist who often interacts with her fans on social media, Uchis is closely in touch with her devoted fanbase; throughout the show she is vocal about her appreciation for their support. As her performance continues and the tempo of the evening continues to rise, the young Colombian singer thanks the crowd for their high energy despite her current malaise. Though there are a few pauses throughout the show for her to catch her breath, Uchis pushes through every song in its entirety and gives her all to the performance.
Though singing and speaking almost solely in English, Uchis treats her Hispanic fans to a cover of Luis Miguel’s classic “Sabor a Mi” and performs her debut Spanish single “Nuestro Planeta” towards the tail end of the performance. Though only a portion of the audience knew the lyrics to either song, the entire theater maintained the group’s high energy and danced along. The line between being an American hit and being put solely Latin music category is a thin one, and one the Uchis straddles well as she has only gained traction with more fans through her genre-defying work.
As the show comes to an end, she thanks Phony Ppl for joining her on stage, and informs the crowd that her introduction to Atlanta has been an experience that makes her eager to return. After what appears to be the end of a night, the crowd chants for an encore and Úchis delivers with a surprising close. She asks the whole crowd to stay silent, saying she has to remember the words to a song she used to know. Once a hush fell over the theater, her voice rang out the unmistakable first notes of Elvis Crespo’s “Suavemente,” a veritable classic for any Spanish-speaker. The final burst of energy from this high-tempo salsa classic leaves the air charged with anticipation for the singer’s upcoming studio album and, possibly, another tour.
Kali delivered an amazing show, and it’s clear she is destined for great things if she continues to create new and unique music that has built such a dedicated fanbase. If she brought down the house in Atlanta when sick, one has to wonder what can she do when she’s fully recovered. Her current tour continues through February of 2018, with an album release expected in that timeframe. Visit kaliuchis.com for tour dates and more information about the artist.