Two rising superstars combined forces Tuesday and Wednesday night at the Greek Theatre. Colombian-American pop singer Kali Uchis and British R&B star Jorja Smith are no strangers to sold-out shows. So it’s no surprise they did it twice together this week.
Both artists appeared on my 25 Favorite Albums of 2018 list with their debut full-length records. Kali Uchis’ Isolation was as unique of a pop record as I’ve heard in years. Jorja Smith’s Lost & Found was an equally impressive first record as the Brit recalled the days of prime Alicia Keys.
Jorja Smith came up first, jumping right into things with my favorite track “Teenage Fantasy”. Looking absolutely gorgeous in a red dress, Smith put her everything into her singing, and her powerful vocals filled the Greek Theatre all the way to the back. She performed a dozen songs in all, with highlights including “The One” and “Wandering Romance”.
Kali Uchis has performed a half-dozen times since her Coachella debut last year, and it’s clear Los Angeles loves her. The pit in front of the stage constantly had their phones in the air, and sang along to every word. A black dress hugged her curvy frame like a wetsuit as she moved around the stage. A white set of stairs gave the stage a bit of a lounge singer vibe.
She mixed things up throughout her set. Early on, she was joined by collaborator and The Internet musician Steve Lacey on “Just a Stranger”, and mixed in interpretations of a handful of songs, including Pharrell’s “Beautiful” and Radiohead’s “Creep”.
The biggest surprise came towards the end of the show. Tyler the Creator joined her for “After the Storm”, what I think was the standout track of her record. Then Jorja Smith came back on stage for renditions of Erykah Badu’s “On & On”, Amy Winehouse’s “Stronger Than Me”, and a medley of Destiny’s Child songs in “Bills, Bills, Bills” and “Say My Name”. They closed things out with their shared collaboration “Tyrant”.
All in all, it was a one-of-a-kind show that proved why these are two musicians that will be selling out large venues for years to come.
Photos by Betsy Martinez