Sampha, Kelsey Lu kick off #30DaysInLA with a bang

Sampha 30DaysInLA

Tuesday night brought the first of Red Bull Sound Select’s #30DaysInLA concert series, and what a start it was with Sampha and Kelsey Lu at the Palace Theatre downtown.

Props to #30DaysInLA for continually putting on many of their shows in little-used venues like the Palace Theatre. I had never been there before, and the pairing with the artists I caught Tuesday night couldn’t have been more perfect. The acoustics of this theater fit the vocals of Sampha and Kelsey Lu like a glove.

Those who arrived early enough to the how received special edition pennants. I missed the first opening act SerpentWithFeet but made it in just in time to see Kelsey Lu. A friend of mine had told me about her a few months ago and I really dug the little of her I heard on Spotify.

On stage, it was just Lu, her cello, and her pedals so she could loop sounds live on stage. She played through her 2016 EP Church and showcased her impeccable vocals – which to me sounded like a cross between Jeff Buckley and Lisa Hannigan.

The slow build of “Dreams” sent shivers up my spine as Lu’s vocals left the crowd in stunned silence. Another highlight of Lu’s set was the song “Visions of Old,” which the singer said was about her grandmother who passed away after a battle with Alzheimer’s and a dream she had about her. You could hear a pin drop, and then Lu seamlessly transitioned into “Empathy,” another memorable moment from the night.

Closing the night was British electronic producer and singer-songwriter Sampha. This venue has a capacity of about 1,000 or so and it was one of the earliest #30DaysInLA shows to sell out. Sampha has worked with the likes of Kanye West, Drake, SBTRKT, Jessie Ware, and Solange among others.

The crowd erupted in applause when Sampha performed “Too Much” – which was one of the hooks featured on a Drake collaboration. He sort of has a James Blake vibe to him, though slightly less down-tempo. At times, there was a full band set up behind him, but the parts that shined brightest were when it was just Sampha on stage with his vocals the primary instrument. Sampha has his debut album Process dropping soon and a lot of material seemed to come

My personal favorite moment of Sampha’s set was “Can’t Get Close” from his 2013 EP Dual. It’s a beautiful song dedicated to Sampha’s late father and shows an immense amount of vulnerability.

#30DaysInLA kicked off wonderfully and I expect the month to produce many more moments at the level of the first night. We’ll next be at the Nov. 4 show at The Wiltern headlined by Bob Moses.

Photos courtesy of Ivan Rhivanz / Ellenwood-EP