I first discovered Yuna back in 2012 (Pandora’s always clutch, right?); the Malaysian singer-songwriter’s mellow voice, cozy melodies, and meaningful lyrics had an instantly mesmerizing effect on me. Songs like ‘Planes,’ ‘Tourist,’ and Pharrell-produced ‘Live Your Life’ spoke to my nomadic spirit, while others -- ‘Lullabies,’ ‘Decorate,’ and ‘Bad Idea’ -- serenaded the hopeless romantic side of me so effortlessly.
When she released her second album, Nocturnal, I’d pretty much declared that she was officially my soul sister.
Aside from the fact that ‘nocturnal’ is undoubtedly one of the most applicable adjectives I’d use to describe myself (especially as I write this at 1:27AM), here was another album that lended the same sincerity, easy listening, jubilance, and profound connection to my state of mind.
I knew the stars were aligned flawlessly for me to come upon a convenient, free concert of hers, and as soon as I learned of it, I made my attendance mandatory. One random night on Twitter, I saw a tweet from Maxwell about a performance he did with Yuna, and how wonderful she was. So I thought, “I really wanna see her! (I’d love to see Maxwell again too btw) Let’s see if she has any upcoming LA shows.” Upon pulling up her tour schedule, I was delighted to see “Santa Monica” and “free.”
As I expressed in my Wanderlust Fest post, it can’t get any better for me than down the street, on the beach, and free!
On Thursday nights all summer long, the Santa Monica Pier holds Myspace-sponsored Twilight Concerts, providing an eclectic mix of live performances for absolutely no cost. (I was completely baffled as to how Myspace is still thriving -- who even types that into their domain? -- but Wiki says it’s relaunched as some sort of Pandora/Soundcloud type music streaming site, so I guess this partnership does make sense. Whatevs.) Joining the innumerable crowd at and around the pier, I once again felt a sense of euphoria to be a part of this beachy, energetic community where I will never run out of things to do.
There were people gathered directly around the stage, ensuring they’d be right in front when Yuna came on; families, couples, and friends, with lawn chairs perched on the boardwalk not too distant from the stage; others were further back milling around food stands or participating in the sectioned off beer garden; and finally, a huge congregation of folks just off the pier and down on the beach, choosing to enjoy the night’s tunes while comfortably laid out with picnics and blankets.
If my best friends (or bae) lived out here with me, I’m sure this is would be our go-to date spot every single week. The vibes are just flawless!
When the sun dipped away and left the stage and pier lights to illuminate the night, it was time for the woman of the hour to grace us all. On stage, Yuna was beautiful. She was perfectly fashioned in flowy garments, characteristic of her delicate persona, and all smiles. I could bet that many of her fans would say their admiration for her goes beyond physical charm, though. She has a beaming sense of humility -- she’d ask humorously “if it was okay” before performing her songs, and thanked the audience after each number. The concert happened to fall on the same evening of Malaysia Air’s most recent tragedy, so she began by expressing deep felt affinity and sympathy for her home country, asking the audience to pause for a moment of silence.
She delivered a refreshing repertoire of songs from both albums, including ‘Lullabies’, ‘Mountains’, ‘Decorate,’ ‘Rescue,’ and more, and exhibited her talents further by bringing out her guitar and ukulele for a few songs as well. Her lively band complemented her excellently; it was clear the crowd was pleased.
Although it feels a tad bit wrong to even mutter a few not so glowing words about this heart warming songstress, I will admit she isn’t the strongest or most symphonic when it comes to live vocals. Yuna has an essence as graceful as a swan and appears pure as Fiji water; even if you’ve never watched any videos or seen her in person, you can close your eyes, listen to her music, and formulate the exact same vision. She’s so genuine and positive that you don’t even want to notice any off-pitch notes.
Still, I enjoyed her performance very much. Her soft chords work for her light and relaxing song structures.
I appreciated being live, in the moment, surrounded by hundreds (probably thousands) of other people who adore this gentle soul.
Even before the thought of birthing this blog, I knew that whenever I did create some sort of platform, I’d have to share this song. It communicates the importance of self-liberation; of breaking free.
Of course, the goal isn’t to lead a life that you always want to escape from -- but escaping comfort zones and stagnation is absolutely necessary for real transformation.
My ideas of breaking free include escaping from a life of normalcy and constantly embarking on new, challenging adventures; making it a goal to see as much of the world as possible; taking control over your own life and building something no one can take from you. Our purpose for Urbanistas is to encourage and highlight just that, and ultimately, I plan to build a living around these principles.
I’m sure we all have those artists whose music tends to speak to our spirits, who we just vibe out to on a whole ‘nother level. Kid Cudi, Jhene Aiko, and SZA are a few more of mine… what about yours?