Better than... Autotune
The El Rey Theatre is one of those venues that inspires artists to bring something special to the stage. Last night, Goapele and Yuna did just that, proving that classic soul music will never go out of style.
Opening the night was Malaysian pop artist Yuna, who has been promoting her self-titled album since April. Tall and thin in a chic red blazer, she approached the microphone wearing her signature colorful head wrap. Most of the audience was caught up in conversations and seemed not to know who this artist was. She introduced herself in a soft sweet voice, began to sing then dropped the hard-hitting bassy beat to "Lullabies." Everyone immediately shut up and looked up at her like, "Oh shit, what's this?"When she moved here from Malaysia two years ago, the first concert she went to was Peter Bjorn and John at the El Rey. She thought to herself, "One day I'm going to play this venue." With each song backed by her one-man band Lincoln Jesser on keys, laptop, and everything else, she kept the crowd curious for what would come next. She mentioned to us later that she wants a band so bad, but at the moment it's all about keeping it simple and building a fan base.
During her set, several people pulled out their iPhones and tried using the Shazam app to recognize the songs she was playing. The app is not supposed to work for live music, only recordings. Sneaking a glance at their phone screens, we saw that Yuna sounded so clean, the songs popped up.
When she ended with the Pharrell Williams-produced "Live Your Life," more people realized who she was and those who were excited to be in-the-know made sure their friends remembered her.