One listen and she’s impossible to forget. Powerful instrumentals showcase a whimsical and self-assured voice, oozing with anxiety and desperation.
Kristine Meredith, known by her stage name K.flay, is like no other female hip-hop artist on the market. Layered eyeliner, greasy black hair, ripped jeans and an over washed white tee put her in a completely different category from the scantily clothed, booty-shaking wannabe female rappers that saturate the market.
K.flay’s appearance is just as raw and honest as her lyrics. Nothing is off limits. Drug abuse, mental health, relational breakdown, Trump’s Presidency and oral sex are just some of the topics the 31-year-old tackles. Her lyrical intelligence, love of expletives and dark past suggests she is Eminem’s long-lost sister.
Despite the song Blood In The Cut coming in at 139 in Australia’s Hottest 200 last year, a feature album on Triple J last month and a popular Like A Version with Slumberjack, the performer remains a well-kept secret.
A small crowd of loyal Perth listeners inhabited the Rosemount Hotel on Thursday evening for her Groovin the Moo sideshow. The moment I entered the venue I could sense the show goers were more than just fans. K.flay’s lyrics create a community, encouraging individuals to embrace the bittersweet world we live in and share rather than bare pain.
The support act Lupa J delivered her own unique blend of musical mastery. The 19-year-old classically trained violinist turned electronic musician, beautifully smashed the mournful tone of the violin with a heart pounding synth. Lupa J is gifted in the art of storytelling, demonstrating just as much musical maturity as the main act. Her dramatic sci-fi inspired makeup; powerful body movements and poetic lyrics magnetized the mingles, pumping everyone up for the performance to come.
The crowd compacted as K.Flay’s two other band members took the drums and guitar. Welcomed with a rumble of applause, the grunge queen opened with the hit Giver from her latest album – Every Where Is Some Where. The crowd sipped on her generous serves of energy and she followed up last month’s release with the old favourite Can’t Sleep from her 2014 album Life As A Dog.
The hour-long set comprised of a mix of tunes from both albums. More reserved yet evocative numbers like Mean it, You Felt Right and Hollywood Forever were played along a few oldies. No part of the stage was left neglected as she jumped from corner to corner and even played the keys for a few tracks.
High Enough was a crowd favourite as members jumped to the ceiling. The banger Black Wave showcased the talent of her band, the crowd waving their limbs to the smashing of drums and slamming of electric guitars. Apparently, the crowd could go higher, her song FML chanted like a national anthem.
Her conversations with the crowd were limited to a sentence or two between songs. For me, the highlight of live music is hearing the intimate, comical or tragic events that lead to the creation of a song – but K.Flay let her dark lyrics, facial expression and body thrusting do the communicating.
When she announced her final song for the evening, the crowd looked around in shock. We knew what was coming but it was far too soon. The familiar drum intro of Blood In The Cut began and the crowd erupted, moving as one collective.
An encore was inevitable. But what cards were left? All her hits had been played.
She broke the trend, choosing sophistication over head-banging hits. Commenting on the uncertainty and political turmoil plaguing the US, K.Flay’s final punch hit harder than any drumbeat. The President Has A Sex Tape and Dreamers caused the audience to stop dancing for a moment to take time to reflect on the world around them.
I was begging for more. Her three EPs released between 2010 and 2013 remained stuffed away. Had K.flay outgrown them? Was she questioning her fans familiarity with her older hits? Had she run out of steam?
If she was physically and emotionally drained from the jam-packed Aussie tour, she did a good job hiding it. Chatting and hugging star struck fans post performance, you could read the appreciation on her face. K.Flay seemed surprised by the dedication of the small Aussie fan group.
With a Groovin the Moo set to come and rumors of her Like A Version taking place on stage, there was no doubt that as more people from Perth were exposed to her music, the following of this jaw-dropping performer would deservingly grow.