This past Sunday night was dedicated to soul sailing...
I got to see two of my favorite artists, Jhene Aiko and SZA, who both released major projects this year ('Souled Out' and 'Z') that I think I will never stop listening to. These ladies' entire libraries stay in rotation. I've been known to express my inner stan justttt a tad over a couple artists who I'm especially drawn to; this time I did it through up-close-and-all-up-in-yo-face photos, and getting my entire life from the moment SZA hit the stage to open for Jhene at downtown LA's Club Nokia.
Prior to my favs, little miss Willow Smith took the stage, and even big bro Jaden joined her for an appearance. The only Willow song I'd heard as of late was "9" with SZA (which I love). I didn't much know what to expect, but I dug her! She's still young and perfecting her sound, but I can see her growing into an artist that I'll listen to, with her free, Badu-like flare and mellow acoustics. The Internet opened afterwards. She also seems like a cool chick; pretty voice, unexpected style, & distinctive look. It's easy to draw parallels and identify the common theme for all the Enter the Void Tour ladies, however, I love that each of them are all very unique artists who are trailblazing their own sounds in the popular music industry.
SZA then appeared, smiling, dressed as if the audience were her friends and she was casually hanging with us for a kickback, her high energy moving her all around the stage. She got down for us (a little twerking included...#heynowww), she SANG, she belted out tunes layered with deft lyrics backed by her skilled (male and female) band.
As if SZA's neo-soulness wasn't enough, the leading TDE songstress brought her LA-based group members along for surprise appearances -- and I was too hype. Do you understand how much I love TDE? I shrieked some form of "Aaaaaye"/"Yassss" when Schoolboy Q came out sporting a fancy non-bucket hat, rapping Studio -- which is STILL my jam. Q definitely had the crowd going UP. A couple more songs into SZA's performance, the homie Ab Soul showed up for another surprise verse, igniting the audience once again -- because who doesn't like surprise concert guests!?
Then SZA started singing 'Babylon,' and that's when I braced for an any-second arrival of Kendrick Lamar, who spits fire on the already hot track off of SZA's recent EP. The previous day, I expressed via tweet how much I really wanted to see them both perform the song together -- one of my favorite songs by two of my top current artists. Wish granted. I was tickled and delighted and smiling hard as that one emoji (y'all know which one I'm talking about) when K. Dot crept out behind the rafters rapping his intense verse. Even though I anticipated his cameo, it was still a wonderful surprise.
SZA looked so happy to bring out her bros, reunited with the TDE gang in LA for a bit of extra crowd pleasing. We were very pleased indeed. Thanks guise!
Finally, it was Jhene's turn.
The stage was transformed into a reflective sanctuary, with pillows, candles, and burning incense, whose sedative fragrance wafted toward the audience. The mood was set perfectly. Jhene opened in the darkness, sitting in a meditative position on her mat and pillows at the back of the stage. Gradually the lights brightened, she stood, revealing a gorgeous black and gold number -- flowy, exotic, sexy but delicate, just a tad risqué (also how someone might describe Jhene hereself).
Jhene's soft voice crooned out songs from all 3 of her projects, beautiful and powerful tracks on which she openly copes with all her vulnerabilities through the stories she shares in song form. She interacted with the audience a lot, excited to be on stage in her home town, telling us that performing is the equivalent of her visiting a therapist and that she wished she could be up there all night. (Me too girl, I'd stay and watch for hours).
Like SZA, she also had a few surprise, surprises for us. First, Childish Gambino (aka Donald Glover) hit the stage for their 'Bed Peace' duet. Then Vince Staples performed 'The Vapors' with her (I love this song but I admit I had totally forgotten this guy's name). Then, the one appearance that elicited the biggest reaction from the crowd all night -- and the LOUDEST screams I've heard since ... probably B2K Scream Tours -- Chris Brown. One girl had randomly tipped off Mika and I that Breezy was in the building (Scenario: *Girl appears out of nowhere as we're waiting for Jhene's set to start.* "I just want y'all to know Chris Brown is here!" *Rushes off with no further commentary*). Well, when Jhene began singing 'Drunk Texting,' I didn't even put two and two together that it was Chris's song until he appeared on stage! Previous day's drama aside, he sounded GOOD. I love, love, love the two together on this song.
We nearly missed Jhene's encore and final special guest. We thought she was all wrapped up, and we started to exit the venue as many others had, when all of a sudden we heard her return to the stage. We turned right back around just as the door attendants were saying "sorry ladies" and closing up to prevent in & outs (no burgers). However, we squeezed right back in just as the doors closed, on some final countdown type sh*t LOL. I'm glad we caught her as she closed, because she was joined by her adorable & totally un-shy daughter Nami, singing one last song and ending on a high note.
I appreciate being able to feel music, to connect under-the-surface and be able to reflect to certain songs, certain artists as a whole. Much like Yuna, another musician who I tend to call my soul sister, there's a certain charm about Jhene's genuine, gentle being and uplifting spirit that makes her stand out and especially cherished in my music world. The industry really needs artists like Jhene and SZA, strong women who write their own songs, believe fully in every project they push, stay true to themselves, and promote positivity at any given chance.
As stated, I got my entire life at this show! Between sailing out to both my lovely ladies, being blessed with all of the guest surprises (perks of LA concert going FTW) and being able photograph the show (concert lighting is the GOAT of all lighting. Look at how glorious all these fluorescents are!), the Enter the Void Tour is easily one of my favorite concerts and highlights of my first year as California Kris.
Enjoy more photos & tell me what you think below!
I have yet to master my camera or shooting at a concert (my first time with this Canon & lens), but I played around with a few different sittings and I'm really pleased with how they came out. All concert images are unedited and copyrighted by myself, Kristen Noelle. Please ask before reposting.