Fronted by soul songstress Nai Palm, the Melbourne-based future soul four-piece Hiatus Kaiyote graced the stage of Le Poisson Rouge last night. But first, the show opened with a set from Grammy-nominated Emily King—which goes to show how swiftly the career of the Australian singer-songwriter has grown over the past year.
The Hiatus Kaiyote set was sophisticated and suave, expertly synthesizing a motley mix of disparate sounds and influences. This was only Nia Palm’s third performance in New York with Hiatus Kaiyote, but she has already gathered an impressive cult following with fans singing along to some of her more accessible melodies. The small venue was crowded with one of the most diverse audiences I’ve ever seen at an up-and-coming artist’s show. In between sets I overheard someone say they paid $50 for a ticket to the sold out show from a stranger on Craigslist.
“Just for the record, I’m pretty dry up here so I can stay articulate,” Palm rasped between songs during the first half of the set. At one point she invited an African opera singer on stage to juxtapose her own devastatingly affecting chops with a solemn counter-melody. As much as Palm did to command the stage with her vocals, it was her backing band who often managed to steal the show. The electronic-oriented, big band R&B sound was like a constant conversation between individual parts, lulled into lethargy or advanced to a state of elation at a moment’s notice.
Words and photos by Angel Eugenio Fraden.