In the grand scheme of things, it’s still early in the year as far as concerts go but I think I just saw a top-ten set on Monday night. What makes for a top-ten set? It’s a set that makes you feel more than you thought you were capable of at that time. A set that gives you both a burst of energy and motivation but also brings you a sense of zen and calm at the same time. I got all of those things and more from the K. Flay set on Monday night which makes her a definite contender in my top ten for 2023.
Before we dig into K. Flay’s set, let’s talk about opening act Jack Kays. I’ve had Jack Kays’ song, “SIDEWAYS” (featuring Travis Barker) on my daily playlist for some time. It’s definitely a bit more youthful than I tend to go for but there’s something just so catchy and infectious about the track that it’s hard to resist. I got that track and more of the over-produced music that Jack Kays seems to be striking gold with on Monday night but what really stood out to me were the few songs he did without his band or the multiple layers of tracks behind said band. “Morbid Mind” and “Bottom of the Bottle” were done with no frills and you really got to see the true talent of Jack’s voice and, I feel, you got to see his true passion come out. Don’t get me wrong, the full band tracks were great and definitely warmed up the quickly growing audience within the Palace Theatre but they just felt a bit hollow to me and it felt as if Jack and his band were just going through the motions when it came to those songs. All of that changed when Jack was left bare on the stage with just his guitar and a microphone. The rawness and the passion left me absolutely enamored by this young kid. Jack Kays is a fairly new act when it comes to the mainstream and I hope his momentum keeps up but I also hope I get to see more of the raw-acoustic-based tracks hit it as big as some of the more produced commercialized tracks.
grandson’s set had a long intro. First, it was “Bohemian Rhapsody” pumping through the speakers and then it was Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” that was blared (and I mean freaking blared to the point where the vibration from the bass had my nose piercings rattling around badly enough to make me sneeze multiple times) before grandson appeared on the stage sitting on a stage prop of a city bench under a street sign labeled “I Love You, I’m Trying” (after his newest full-length album). It was a dramatic but also subtle entrance for the star that definitely got his set started off right.
There was something super rushed about grandson’s set but, at the same time, it felt perfect. He was able to pump through twenty-five songs in under an hour and a half and still found enough time to allow the audience to get to know the strangers around them and lay out his three rules for the show. Those small moments where you saw just how connected grandson is to his fans were a highlight for me but I also loved how dynamic his performance was. As a performer, grandson knows just how to get an audience going. Whether it’s shouting at them to amp it up a bit, thanking them for singing along, or just smiling at them as he bolts across the stage, there’s something subtle and unspoken about his connection to his fans that adds a certain sense of magic to his music.
Even if you claim to not know who K. Flay is, you probably know some of her music. She has a distinct sound and style but, most importantly, she has super unique and heartfelt vocals that are absolutely a signature of hers. K. Flay has been grinding for years and I feel like she has never really quite hit the mark that she should be at but is consistently putting out amazing music and grinding hard. I’ve seen her a couple of times in venues and festivals alike and each time, I am left enamored by this woman but something was different about her performance on Monday night.
Last September, K. Flay suddenly went completely deaf in one ear. Just think about that for a second. Being hard of hearing has to be terrible, losing hearing of any sort is a fear of mine. K. Flay is a professional musician whose livelihood depends on her music and she lost her hearing completely in one ear. She admitted to the audience that seven months ago, she never thought she would be able to perform again. Hell, she couldn’t keep her balance after the incident let alone perform but here she was, just a couple of months after it happened– releasing new music and back on the road. K. Flay had something to prove and you could feel that throughout her powerful performance on Monday.
K. Flay is an idol for the weirdos, geeks, and freaks. From the lyrics in her songs to the words of encouragement, she gives to the audience with her “I don’t care who’s watching” dance moves– there’s something so genuine and fun about K. Flay and I feel like it was her set on Monday night when I finally caught onto this. Although I wasn’t super familiar with her music outside of the hits that turn up on my daily playlists, I felt like I had a deep connection to each song. When she spoke about letting go of everything that has been bugging you and just have a little freakout. Or when she talked about how she has learned to burn down her shyness and become a burning phoenix– I feel like I related on a super deep level to the point where I had a bit of an existential crisis multiple times throughout her set but in all of the best ways.
I clearly could keep going on and on about the show on Monday night. I haven’t even touched on the fact that hearing grandson and K. Flay do “Zen” together was one of the most therapeutic moments of the night. I haven’t brought up the fact that the connection between all three acts on Monday night was a strong sense of self and passion all matched by infectious beats and catchy songs. How in the heck did I forget to mention the wide age range of the audience? Long story short, Monday night was a stellar show full of amazing performances and one that is absolutely in the running for a top ten of the year. I hope you made it out to the show!