Emotional Oranges lived up to their juicy name with a night of back-and-forth banter, teasing and phenomenal vocals at The Novo. The LA-based male/female duo are unlike another act in 2021, with stellar melodies, attitude and chemistry between the mysterious A & V. Their first albums The Juice: Vol. I & II were stacked with memorable songs and their star-studded 2021 release The Juicebox boasted guest appearances from Vince Staples, Kiana Ledé, THEY., Becky G, Chiiild, Channel Tres and more, two of them even surprised the fans, but more on that later. A & V were mostly silhouetted throughout the night through different stage washes of color and neon, perhaps to deliver a mood and vibe captured in their sound, which is a blend of late-90s grooves. Prior to the set, Lauryn Hill songs played almost entirely, which foreshadowed a moment in the set from V that earned her a wild applause. Beyond the sound, it’s clear Emotional Oranges loved the era before TSA checks, when R&B and soul was flowing freely – they even had video clips of 90s movies, Diddy and Sade to create the perfect setting.
Prior to Emotional Oranges, Wisconsin singer/rapper Unusual Demont performed a handful of songs including his breakthrough “Amber”. Australian singer/rapper Tkay Maidza took over as the main opener with her DJ on the decks while she herself was decked out in a red and black leather getup à la a 90s Missy Elliott music video. Maidza performed the rap-heavy “Grasshopper”, followed by an introduction that she’s from Australia and that she recently moved to Los Angeles. After an applause she asked “How you guys feelin?” at which point she taught the crowd her go-to answer “Bish I’m good” which they later repeated. The bass was heavy for her next rap stint on “Syrup” as Maidza danced all over the stage. Next was her trippy cover of The Pixies’ (Fight Club soundtrack) “Where Is My Mind” and phones and lighters were up for “Cashmere” soon after. Tkay Maidza was especially energized by her bangers which closed out the set including the infectious hip-hop track “Shook”.
The first big highlight of the night was the undeniable banger “All That”, with orange lights pulsing across the stage, with A egging on V, V showing off her poses and finally a couple of dancers igniting the stage. Dance-pop song “Hold You Back” sounds like an evening drive on the freeway with an Ol’ Dirty Bastard interpolation of “Got Your Money”, the only thing missing is a feature by The Weeknd.
The feel-good “Don’t Be Lazy” was kicked off by A and both he and “V” smashed it on the vocals – this song is a solid showcase of what the duo can do together. The dancers were back heating up the energy again sexy song “Iconic”, emphasizing that this “boom boom boom” song is all about the bedroom – while memorable nightclub scenes from Will Ferrell and Chris Kattan in A Night at the Roxbury, Heather Graham in Austin Powers, John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever and others lit up the screen.
Emotional Oranges entered the stage with their signature color silhouetting the duo and then the groove started on 2018 track “Motion” with female singer V and male singer A walking back and forth flirtatiously. “Built That Way” was next with V hitting a high note that drove the crowd crazy. They mentioned how it had been two years since their previous show at The Fonda.
The first of two surprise appearances was none other than Latin pop star Becky G who matched V & A’s swagger perfectly, bringing a roar to the stage for the entire duration of the playful, mid-tempo bop “Down To Miami”. “Just Like You” is such a well-balanced song with A handling the verses and V kicking it up with the chorus, as the two took turns pacing around one another with V hitting crazy runs with a huge note by the end, earning a massive applause.
V mentioned to the crowd that she hoped the guys are taking notes: “pull up a chair for your girl” and she started a cover of Diddy’s “I Need A Girl (Part I)” while the black & white images of Diddy & Co. graced the screen.
“Bonafide” was another excellent moment, with Canadian band Chiiild‘s lead singer Yonatan Ayal (who goes by xSDRK), joining the duo, with the three vocalists silhouetted with blue light for full impact.
V and A sat at opposite ends of the stage on stools facing away from one another for a couple truly “emotional” songs including the “Corners Of My Mind”, a beautifully-sad ballad finding the two together on stage by the end with an embrace. The R&B groove “Sundays” followed, for another lovely duet about forgotten love.
V and A then talked about the things single guys and girls do in social situations before heading into the somewhat humorous, always-enjoyable “Your Best Friend Is A Hater”.
The tempo was back up a bit for the head-bopping “Back and Forth” with the entire crowd dancing and singing along to this song that sounds refreshingly pre-millennium.
“I wanna share a song with you guys that means a lot to me”, said V, before going into a couple verses and choruses of “Killing Me Softly With His Song”. It was a moving rendition, one that expectedly was sung in unison at one point with the audience going crazy. The bouncy “Personal” continued the sexy vibes with the crowd singing in a round by the end – “I want your love/won’t you say”.
Emotional Oranges for sure left the crowd wanting more, and even though the encore included the sole “West Coast Love”, it was an apropos hometown send-off with the back-up dancers returning to the stage and arms swaying throughout DTLA’s The Novo.
All photos by Brando