The Pioneer

Kali Uchis sells out the Fox Theater

Photo courtesy of TNS

Sarah Williams-Cain,
Contributor

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Colombian singer songwriter makes her Bay Area stop on her international tour

I first saw Kali Uchis sing in 2014, watching her on YouTube from behind a computer completely awestruck.

She has an unconventional sense of fashion. I wouldn’t call her style vintage necessarily, but rather an homage to the ‘70s and ‘90s. A clash of the outlandish funk of the ‘70s and chic style of the ‘90s. This coupled with her seemingly effortless ability to reach shocking falsettos had me immediately hooked.

Fast forward to Monday night. I entered the Fox Theater ready to see the singer-songwriter, who sold out her stop in Oakland on her current international tour. Tickets prices nearly tripled within days of the performance, fans eager to see her in one of the last stops of the US portion of the tour.

Previously, Uchis collaborated with Gorillaz and Bootsy Collins. She earned Grammy nominations for Best R&B Performance for her song with Daniel Caesar, “Get You.” Last year she also received a Latin Grammy nomination for Best Record of the Year.

Uchis is predominantly known for her unique sense of style and equally as impressive vocal range. She is from Colombia, which inspires many of her songs. She often sings about her deep-rooted love from her country and the many relationships and friendships formed there growing up.

Now let’s get to the concert. The interior of the Fox is a stunning 20th century architecture. The nearly 90-year-old theater boasts a certain charm giving concert goer’s an added value to their experience.

Billowing curtains drape the stage, a grandiose velvet that matches the theater’s interior beautifully. The seats are old-fashioned leather cushions. Not the most comfortable thing I’ve sat on, but that’s besides the point. We know the reason I was really there for.

When I arrived, San Francisco native DJ Funklor — who has opened for Snoop Dogg, Erykah Badu and Drake — was halfway through his set. Uchis finally hopped on stage after a nearly hour long set by DJ Funklor. The crowd was wild with anticipation. She arrived onstage in a two-piece pant and coat set resembling a vibe straight from the movie “The Matrix.” A diamond bandeau and sharp black cat eye glasses finished her ensemble.

Uchis only has one album and a handful of singles out, meaning her selection in song choices would be extremely limited. She started off with one of her most popular songs, “Rush.” Instant crowd pleaser.

The show carried on with her careening vocals backed by her band that consisted of a bassist, keyboardist and drummer. The band seemed in sync, however Uchis was doing more of her own thing and the band was really just sort of there.  

The romantic vibe seemed to consume the entire crowd. The majority of her songs have something to do with love and relationships. Cue all the couples kissing and slow dancing in the aisles.

Uchis is known for her repeated songs that feature hip-hop rapper and R&B artist Tyler the Creator. For some reason I had a naive suspicion that she might bring him out to sing their bountiful songs together however none of that happened. Disappointed but not surprised.

All in all, I had a good time at the performance. But of course, I have some little critiques.

First off, there didn’t seem to be much of a thematic element to the performance. Most of it was just her shaking her hips in motions such as a belly dancer. And while yes — that is impressive for the first five minutes of the concert — it isn’t necessarily something I needed to see for the whole hour she was performing.

I would have liked to see more choreographed dances. Something to really showcase her talent that I know is there. Instead, I was greeted by a seemingly haphazard performance that lasted a mere hour.

I am excited for her to further her career and blossom into the artist I know she has the potential to be. I think she is off to a great start with a bright future in the music industry ahead of her.

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Kali Uchis sells out the Fox Theater