Last year was a big one for Kali Uchis and Jorja Smith as they both released their debut albums. Uchis’ Isolation is a great collection of pop songs doused in multiple genres and Smith’s soulful odyssey Lost & Found are pitch perfect debuts, highlighting both artists strengths as incredible voice in modern music. Upon initial listen of Uchi’s “Tryant” which features Smith. it was pretty obvious that the pair also worked well together. So it’s no surprise that Uchis and Smith decided to do a co-headlining tour. They stopped by Aragon last week for a spectacular night the really showed that these two are a perfect match.
The night began with Mia Carucci delivering a pretty fun DJ set that helped set the tone of the night. She caught the vibe of the crowd before the lights even dropped and proceed to blast jams that had the crowd grooving along. Seated next to her setup were a couple of teddy bears that eventually were thrown out to the crowd, delighting the fans who were able to snag one of the cuddly souvenirs. The DJ set was short enough to not make the crowd feel like they were waiting too long to the main event, but long enough to really ingratiate Carucci with the crowd.
Having seen Jorja Smith rise from smaller icon venues like Schubas and Subterranean to the bigger Thalia Hall and now Aragon, I can’t help but be excited to see her perform. Smith carries an aura about her that exudes superstar status and she’s finally closer to getting the attention she deserves. I say closer, because her talents deserve even more than she has gotten. Smith is just was wonder with a voice that never falters and songs that really dig into some universal themes. While in the past I’ve reference R&B singer that are easily comparable to Smith, I feel that she has fully come into her own as a performer. She is more confidant and commanding on stage than ever. Those comparisons now feel way in the past with Smith becoming a touchstone for other artists.
Smith’s time on stage was full of smiles as her sets have been revolving around her debut album for quite some time. The songs have become incredibly familiar with her fans as they sing along with joyous voices. With every passing performance these song’s messages and quality get better and better. “Teenage Fantasy” soars with its tale on vacillating love, giving that simple idea of young love a more nuanced bite. “Blue Lights”, which has always been a fan favorite underlined by a Dizzee Rascal interpolation, has reached new heights of maturity that mirror Smith continue evolution as a performer.
Kali Uchis’ set followed and ramped things up a ton for the remainder of the evening. Instantly you could tell that the set was going to be much more theatrical. A small stage with a spinning top was erected before the start of the set that delayed the start. But once the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted, Uchis appearing out of a smokey darkness before being bathed in bright lights. She stood atop the revolving platform and vogued for the crowd, kicking things off with “Loner”. What followed was an insanely hype set that focused Uchis’ amazing pop songs and her hyper sexual dance moves that took her all over the stage. “Dead To Me” quickly followed with its pounding rhythms that reconfirmed the intensity of the night.
Most of the set kept up that energy, which how could it not as Uchis ‘s songs radiate a party atmosphere. However,the biggest highlight came when Uchis performed a tender cover of Radiohead’s “Creep”. The song saw everything slow down a bit; Uchis sat on the stage instead of moving around stage and her sound replace bombastic beats with calm grooves. It was one of the lone moments of calm serenity that made the rest of the energetic set shine and in turn made the relaxed performance feel special.
Uchis and Smith came together at the end of the show a short encore, letting their powerful voice interweave with one another on a few tracks. The atmosphere had become so electric by this point with the crowd cheering at their loudest and most excited. Best of all they seemed to be having as great of a time together as the crowd was. While they covered a few tracks, bouncing off songs from Eyrka Badu and Amy Winehouse, it was “Tyrant” that the crowd reacted to most. Their sole officially released song together was the cherry on top of a marvelous night that really showed just how talented these two performers are.
All photos by Julian Ramirez