Kimbra / The Stepkids

Commodore, Vancouver, BC, September 25

> > Sep 26 2012

Kimbra / The Stepkids - Commodore, Vancouver, BC, September 25
Photo: Caily DiPuma
By Alan RantaSeeing the Stepkids perform confirms the press release claim that the Connecticut band consists of three singer-songwriters. From the opening rendition of "Shadows on Behalf" from their self-titled 2011 debut, the funk-fusion-fuelled power trio proved highly talented across the board.

Producing lush three-part harmonies that would do Motown proud, with soaring falsettos offsetting grounded deliveries, they played with skill and swagger, coming across tight yet groovy in their extended, technical jams. Perhaps they were still a little raw in their banter and stage presence, dressed in white head to toe to blend in with the lo-fi psych projections blasted in their faces for their entire set. It made a reciprocal connection with the crowd difficult, but they were overwhelmingly nice.

Bassist Dan Edinberg used the word "cordially" twice, inviting people to meet them at the merch booth to hang out, while drummer Tim Walsh had a grin a mile wide plastered across his face for their entire set. They're a band you want to root for, even though, in the most important ways, they've already made it.

New Zealand's Kimbra Lee Johnson, commonly known by her first name, may not be super well-known in North America outside of that Gotye single, but you wouldn't know it to see her. Taking the stage with a four-piece band to the theme from The Godfather, herself wearing a festive reflective red, white and green dress with a tinsel vest, Kimbra radiates star quality.

Her presence was dramatic yet not overly staged, forming an instant rapport with the crowd as she twirled, thrashed, flipped her thick, black hair, and grappled with invisible entities whenever she wasn't showcasing her dynamic, awe-inspiring voice that seems to belong to the ages.

Kimbra has the powerful pipes of a legendary diva, up there with the finest the music industry has ever known, but she doesn't fall prey to the calculated histrionics that make Christina Aguilera and Mariah Carey hard to take seriously. From her emotive voice to her joyous presentation, it's obvious Kimbra feels what she does, pulling from some place deep inside for her Nina Simone cover "Plain Gold Ring" and single "Two Way Street" (both from her debut album Vows).

After this tour, the next time you see her will likely be in a stadium.
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The Stepkids are phenomenal. I wish there were more appropriate high-profile acts for them to open for. Kimbra's fine, but really doesn't do anything for me.
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I loved Kimbra at the Commodore, she was phenomenal and I'm glad I got to see her at this venue so close so tangible... The Stepkids on the other hand, not my thing, they sound too much like an 80's band that was trying to funk it up but it doesn't work
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I didn't think Kimbra and The Stepkids would work together, but it was surprisingly apt. They're both get-up, fun-having good times, and they both seem to quite like each other (Kimbra tweeted and in concert noted her affection for The Stepkids). However, if anything, Kimbra is the '80s band, considering her kinda retro-pop diva aesthetic, where The Stepkids are totally born of '70s psychedelic funk.
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