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Review Sat Feb 01 2014

Lullabies and Loud Noises @ Schubas, 1/31

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Photo by Steve Stearns

Friday evening saw a packed house at Schubas, as listeners anxiously awaited the sold out show for emergent Malaysian indie-pop songstress Yuna to perform. Gaining vast amounts of popularity over the past year, Yuna has honed her niche in the music world with her eccentric rhythms, lyrics seeped with wisdom, and vulnerability represented in her music. The Schubas show was the first stop on her 2014 US tour, which included opening act Jarell Perry.

I'm not going to lie, I hadn't heard of Jarell Perry or listened to his music before arriving at Schubas. The line to enter the venue's back room winded outside the front door, however, which signified to me that this musician must have a large following, as it's a good sign to have a completely packed house for an opener. With just Perry and a DJ onstage complemented by eccentric videos showing in the background (my personal favorite being a Mario Kart race), Perry's voice was immediately showcased as dynamic and powerful. Blending his smooth R&B vocals with sexy backing beats, Perry has a voice that is reminiscent of Frank Ocean, but is adjusted to become his own style completely.

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Photo by Steve Stearns

He released his first album as available for free download in 2013 titled Simple Things, and is now working on a kickstarter project for his upcoming performance at SXSW this year. Titled The White EP, Perry has touted this set of recorded material as meant to be heard in a live setting accompanied by a stunning visual display in concert with the music. I'm not sure how I missed hearing about this artist until now, but I'm very glad that this show brought his music into my wavelength. His music ranges from songs which illuminate his voice as powerful, reaching a falsetto, as featured on "Getaway," but also juxtaposes this style with sultry slow jams such as "Healing." His sound is fresh and inventive, and I can't wait to hear where his career takes him in months, years, and so forth, as he has already amassed such a large fan base in the beginning of his fledgling career.

As we awaited Yuna's emergence onstage, I couldn't help but yearn for the respite of the cold Chicago winter that I have been longing to escape (polar vortex, anyone?) The packed venue had caused this show to feel like a sweltering summer night, as ceiling fans surged above and the venue was completely packed to the brim. However, there was still just enough room to sway and dance throughout the show, which is perfect, because that is exactly the energy that Yuna's set created for.

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Photo by Steve Stearns

Stepping onstage wearing a dazzling multi-colored sequin top, neutral pant and shoe, and classic head wrap, drenched in a beautiful onyx, Yuna was simply radiating warmth and joy. She seemed completely delighted to be starting her tour at Schubas, and seemed humbled despite the onslaught of fame that has been guided her way in the past year. Extremely relatable, she addressed the audience like we were all old friends throughout the duration of her set.

"Are you all okay out there? How are you doing? Do you need anything?" she cheerfully addressed us all, then peered at a front row audience member, likely experiencing a bit of packed concert hall heat exhaustion. Playing a blend of songs off of her two full-length albums, 2013 Nocturnal, and her self-titled 2012 release, she also sang a handful of songs off of her 2011 EP, Decorate. Many of the songs with lush backdrops were altered in a live setting to showcase a more emotional feel including a piano accompaniment, which turned some her songs into more vulnerable, fragile pieces than had been intended in their onset. These songs included "Lullabies," "Mountains," and "Someone Who Can." Complementing these songs were ones that illuminated her energized, rhythmic material, which included "Live Your Life," and "I Want You Back," as the crowd was consistently dancing and swaying.

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Photo by Steve Stearns

"Was that good? It was difficult," Yuna laughed, as she spoke after singing a cover of Frank Ocean's "Thinkin Bout You." I was amazed at how her voice retained its glorious quality, as even with such a vocally technical song, she maintained perfect pitch and kept us all hooked and attentive. She radiates positivity onstage, and is able to morph from engaging in cheerful crowd banter one minute, to singing an emotionally powerful song the very next moment.

"This is the last song...just kidding," she smirked, which got the audience chuckling as she repeated the joke more than once. As the set wound to a close, the appeal of Yuna's music is found not only in her pristine voice, but in the wisdom that is carried with it. Her lyrics are entrenched with lessons pertaining to relationships, empowerment, and life in general, and each time I've taken a listen to her music over the past few months, I feel rejuvenated and ready to take on the world. She is relatable and cares about her audience, and truly has showcased her talent for a full house. She seemed to sound even better in a live setting than on her recorded material which I have taken copious listens to, and it just showcased her talent as one that is effortless, one that will not fade away with time.

 
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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »

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