Arts & CultureMusicNightlife

Kehlani, Ella Mai and Jahkoy deliver an emotional, memorable WOW Hall performance

In what may have been the best night WOW Hall has seen this year, Kehlani blew minds with her soulful music and inspirational words on Friday with her first performance in Eugene. Not only did Kehlani bring her best to the stage for the Eugene stop on her “SweetSexySavage” tour, but she also brought fantastic openers and mid-set DJs to keep the crowd grooving all night. 

The first opener was Jahkoy, a Toronto R&B artist with a flair for reggae and “elements of house,” as self-described in an interview with the Emerald. His performance consisted of songs from his debut EP from October’s “Foreign Waters.” Much of the audience seemed unaware of Jahkoy’s music except for his collab with ScHoolboy Q on “California Heaven,” but Jahkoy’s energy was absolutely infectious. Jahkoy busted out with provocative dance moves, interacted with the audience and sang with a passion in his voice that brought smiles to everyone dancing along. After his set, he took photos in front of Kehlani’s signature “SweetSexySavage” neon sign with newly converted fans.

After Jahkoy’s energetic set ended, Ella Mai took the stage for a soulful pop performance. The native Brit was discovered on Instagram by DJ Mustard and signed to his label 10 Summers (part of Interscope Records), and she spent all of 2016 releasing EPs. Her most recent EP, “Ready” was released in February and her debut full-length album is due soon. Like Jahkoy, Ella Mai won the hearts of the audience with her captivating voice and dynamic stage presence. She bounced around the stage with a rambunctious spirit and pointed the mic at the crowd to shout her lyrics back at her.

But while the openers left the audience wanting more at the end of each set, Kehlani rocked WOW Hall with hers. Not only was her voice just as graceful, clear and soulful as on each track of “SweetSexySavage,” but she brought the soul to the stage outside of her songs as well. The best and most unique part of this concert was the level of intimacy between Kehlani and the audience.

Between nearly every song, Kehlani would share stories about her past with the audience in an attempt to connect on a personal level. She spoke for 10 minutes about how to separate negative thoughts to maintain a level of self-esteem without dependency on the support of others and gave a remarkable monologue about her experience with the LGBT. During these deeply emotional talks, audience members cried and hugged their friends and loved ones and shouted, “We love you!” to Kehlani.

With each song, everyone in WOW Hall sang along with passion, until half the room was filled with Kehlani’s voice and the other half with the voices of the audience. The performance’s intimacy certainly made it a memorable experience, and Kehlani, Ella Mai and Jahkoy made it easily one of the best concerts to come to Eugene this year.

Watch Kehlani’s video for “CRZY” below:

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Casey Miller

Casey Miller