New Zealand’s Kimbra Dazzles the Crystal with Mikky Ekko and Radiation City

Vortex Music Magazine

Hailing from New Zealand, Kimbra brought her Kiwi-grown electropop to a Soul’d Out crowd at the Crystal Ballroom. Photos by Sydnie Kobza

Kimbra at the Crystal Ballroom on the first night of the Soul'd Out Music Festival—click to see a whole gallery of photos by Sydnie KobzaKimbra at the Crystal Ballroom on the first night of the Soul'd Out Music Festival—click to see a whole gallery of photos by Sydnie Kobza

Kimbra’s sophomore release, The Golden Echo, has it all. With swooping electronic overtures, pops of dancey tones in the mix, and experimental vibes keeping the entity in motion, it’s no wonder Kimbra’s received such positive feedback. With the new record in tow, she recently made her way down to the Colorado Desert for one of the world’s most buzzed about music fests, California’s Coachella.

Between weekends, a handful of tour dates were scheduled to bring Kimbra’s music to other cities along the West Coast for those who couldn’t afford the trip to SoCal, or Coachella’s near $500 tickets. This journey brought her to yet another festival, one happening right here in Portland: the Soul’d Out Music Festival.

Mikky Ekko—click to see a whole gallery of photos by Sydnie KobzaMikky Ekko—click to see a whole gallery of photos by Sydnie KobzaBooked for the Crystal Ballroom, Kimbra was joined by Louisiana's Mikky Ekko and Portland’s very own Radiation City. Ekko teed things off with a short but powerful set, enchanting teen girls and grown men alike. Ekko puts such passion into his voice and words, and so much energy into the way he moves. He recently played Portland in March, opening up for Broods at the Wonder Ballroom (another amazing New Zealand artist), and it was good to see him back so soon. This time, his opening set was brief due to the stage curfew, but Ekko also treated fans to one more song outside the Crystal Ballroom after the night was through. Acoustic, Ekko proved he still has a haunting voice, despite the absence of a large production.

Radiation City were second on the bill, bringing a local highlight to a night of imports. The five-piece represent the best of Portland’s own indie rock scene, incorporating a combination of bossa nova elements with a cool ambience and a layer of psych. The finished product comes out to be a smoothly produced, dynamic masterpiece of sound. Live, the whole of their sound shines through the hands on work of the band, piecing together a heavenly puzzle of music that created a perfect transition between Mikky Ekko’s soulful serenade and Kimbra’s upcoming pop-heavy, electronic force.

Kimbra—click to see a whole gallery of photos by Sydnie KobzaKimbra—click to see a whole gallery of photos by Sydnie KobzaKimbra's powerful persona captivates and creates awe in the room. As the lights dimmed down and the opening chords of Snow White's “I’m Wishing” washed over the crowd, the true magic of the evening began to fill the ballroom.

Kimbra spent the next hour filling the Crystal with sparks only she could generate. Embellished with a most fashionable guise—a sparkling, reflective dress reminiscent of Gaga’s own style—and a delightful collection of facial expressions (of which only Este Haim’s “bassface” could top), the Kiwi goddess walked the stage with powerful strides. Kimbra's showmanship alone was a force to reckon with, and proved to be the foundation of her live show.

Kimbra played through songs off the new album, such as “90s Music” (watch below) and “Teen Heat,” as well as an older array of tunes off her debut, Vows, such as “Settle Down” and the set closer “Come into My Head.”

Through a powerful force of production from Kimbra, a soulful radiance from Mikky Ekko, and that magical Portland brand of sound from Radiation City, the crowd at the Crystal left with nothing but dropped jaws and music in their heads.

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