Arriving to the Toronto stage wearing a funky bejewelled cat mask, Tinashe carried a refined stage presence and sexed up dance moves. Backed by a drummer, a handful of hoodied dancers and reference tracks, her brand of indie R&B-pop has been solidified by way of a discography based on three self-released mixtapes (2012's In Case We Die and Reverie and last year's Black Water) and her debut studio project.
She took things back to the mixtape days — Black Water, to be exact — with "Vulnerable" and "Midnight Sun." No stranger to collaborations or musical experimentation — DJ Mustard, Schoolboy Q, Future, Dev Hynes and production by Toronto's Boi-1da all feature on Aquarius —segueing into the dance vibe of Calvin Harris' "Dollar Signs" felt completely organic. It was the kind of show where she could dive into an "impromptu" dance routine to the sounds of Rae Sremmurd's "No Type" for no rhyme or reason, but to rousing applause. The pace shifted with midtempo club-ready number "Watch Me Work" before fully slowing things down with a seated performance of "Bated Breath," demonstrating that she definitely has vocal chops, backing tracks notwithstanding.
Tinashe has fashioned a vibe that taps a moody, low-end production and makes it her own. She can dance and she can sing and — although the backing tracks became more and more evident as the 60-minute set wore on — she knows how to control a crowd. By the time "2 On" made its inevitable showing, much to the delight of the all-ages crowd, it was clear Tinashe is on track to play arena-level shows soon. Getting the chance to catch the 21-year-old vibe over the silky synths and profanity-laced sounds that comprise modern R&B in a more intimate venue was an interesting affair.