Never has a tambourine been played so aggressively as when in the hands of Kimbra. At the first of two sold-out Webster Hall shows, the tiny New Zealander confidently sauntered out in a dress that looked as though it were constructed from party supplies and proceeded to put on one of the most high-energy shows I’ve ever seen.
She ran through the majority of her newest album, Vows, and much like her record, there were moments of complete cohesion where it would have been impossible for her to sound better, but there were also times that were just a chaotic blur of upper-register screams and strobe lights. That being said, Kimbra is an extremely talented live vocalist. Even while dancing like a maniac and bashing that tambourine, she hit all her big notes and runs with ease.
Tracks “Warrior” and “Settle Down” were the clear crowd favorites, which you could tell by how much the floor buckled as hundreds of people began jumping all at once. “Settle Down” took two tries to get started—Kimbra asked for silence to get the looping of her vocals just right. Asking a pumped up crowd to stay quiet at the beginning of their favorite song is, perhaps, asking too much, but she got it going and performed the standout song in the set.
Kimbra herself was quite sweet and earnest, which was odd given her extreme stage persona. She spoke very little, mostly just thanks to the band and the audience, introducing songs briefly and having a chuckle after a minor wardrobe malfunction—her purple feathery shoulder pad detached in the back after a quick costume adjustment. “This hasn’t happened before,” she laughed. “I just broke my costume!”
What was clear from this show is that Kimbra is designed for bigger venues, not only because it was uncomfortably full in the Webster Hall ballroom but because everything about her show reads “big.” The sound she produced, backed by an outstanding band, was barely contained by ballroom, while her gestures and on-stage presence could easily be transferred to an arena show. This girl is a star, and I get the feeling she knows it. Now it’s only a matter of time until the rest world catches up with her.
Photos by Nicole Craine and Rebecca Smeyne