Kimbra and Tei Shi electrify ATL

Tei Shi, bathed in blue and pink light, was accompanied by a set creating a whimsical woodland vibe. // Photo courtesy of Kendrick Garza

“Oh how I’ve missed you Atlanta,” Kimbra roared as she strutted across the stage. On Feb. 10., the intimate yet iconic venue of Terminal West was met with the feral energy of Kimbra. The New Zealand native made her way back to Atlanta this past Friday to share her latest music from her new album, “A Reckoning.” 

Her current sound is loud, strong, sensual and as unapologetic as her presence. Before Kimbra’s set, the opener Tei Shi made her way to the beautifully decorated stage. The vibe was similar to an enchanted forest with vines and leaves covering the set, with a lovely touch of delicate bows wrapped around the microphone stand. Blue and pink lights illuminated the area, creating a calm energy that would quickly change with the switch between artists. 

Tei Shi is a Canadian Colombian singer with music inspired by indie pop, shoegaze and R&B sounds. As a petite person with an almost fairy-like appearance (further enhanced with the set behind her), the rich vocals and powerful belts that came from Tei Shi were surprising and impressive. 

Her music often circulates around themes of love, loss and growth, and she incorporates her background by switching between English and Spanish as she sings. Tei Shi opened with “Alone in the Universe,” a melancholy song on loneliness and the struggles of trying to figure out one’s place. “This song helped me through a really hard time and brought me out of a rut. Being an artist — and a human in general — is lonely but often in that loneliness we find our strength and a way to pull something beautiful out of something hopeless,” Tei Shi said in an interview about the song with Genius Media.

She closed with fan favorite “Bassically,” a sensual and bouncy song from her first EP “Verde.” This song perfectly captures the artist’s range and the uniqueness of her vocals, which sound almost identical to the recording, a feat that can be rare in the days of autotune and lip syncing. 

With the conclusion of Tei Shi’s whimsical indie set, the stage changed to prepare for the headliner Kimbra. The change was quite distinct; even as Tei Shi’s set was more pastel and soft, Kimbra was able to transform the environment with only a switch in lights and her presence. Basked in intense orange lights, Kimbra’s entrance garnered massive roars from the crowd, all chanting her name. 

One could say Kimbra’s vocals are almost Björk-like, albeit mixed with more rage. Combined with a soundboard that she uses live on stage, the timbre of her vocals are truly unique. She started the show by expressing how much she missed Atlanta, praising the city for its soul. The crowd’s cheers grew even louder, trying to make Kimbra’s current visit even more memorable than the last. 

There is a lot of thought put into the messages and lyrics of Kimbra’s songs, and the artist took the time to give insight into the making of the album and anecdotes about why she made the songs she was about to perform. 

“I’ve been thinking a lot about attention, the power of attention. And it’s rare these days, because we’re, you know, we’re all everywhere and we are all distracted. But when we can do together like this, which we haven’t been able to do for so long, you know … we get to create a space tonight, a culture of our own here in this room. And I want to facilitate a space where you have permission to go into those feelings, those hard feelings,” Kimbra said to the audience. 

She told the crowd that those hard feelings she referenced have been hard for her to confront, which she called a reckoning, thus creating the name of the album. Kimbra noted that there’s so much violence in the world, but she wanted to focus on present life and not getting stuck in the past. 

“I was thinking a lot about catharsis and also about loops, how scary it is to feel on a loop. You know, where you can’t break your cycle. You’re trying so hard to evolve. Oh Lord, and it gets some noisy ups in there. So instead of living with all the noise, I just make noisy songs,” Kimbra said.

She mainly performed music from her latest album like “replay!,” which focused on catharsis and “foolish thinking,” which she said is a song dedicated to her future daughter. Kimbra also decided to revive an older song and performed “Settle Down” from her 2011 album titled “Vows.” This song was received extremely well by the audience as it is one of the artist’s most popular songs. It focuses on the cycle of childhood and adulthood and the pains of reality. 

The show was an experience to say the least. If you are a fan of loud, in-your-face music that makes you question your existence and even find hope in your future, you should definitely give Kimbra a listen.