BY CATHERINE STITES
Re-Emerging London artist Khushi opened for James Blake Tuesday night at a sold out show at the Fox Theater in Oakland. It gave him the opportunity to play for potential new fans as his music is similar in style to Blake’s R&B soul wrenching melodies without the years of experience and the full body of a band to back it up.
Khushi, also known as Kalim “Khushi” Patel, played seven songs during his supporting set of a half hour. He spoke little to the audience, instead focusing what little time he had all on his music. The crowd vibed with Khushi from the get go, bobbing along with his beat, drinks in hand.
The music was hauntingly melodic with lots of potential, but the recorded version of his songs were significantly smoother than the ones he performed. He relied on his vocals with some electronic elements to echo his own voice and other repeated sounds imitating a full band while there were only two people up on the stage.
Unlike his songs, the lighting accompanying his performance left something to be desired. The stage was covered in a violet hue most of the set, but the occasional blinding white light hit the audience in a disorienting way for no apparent reason. Instead of lights timed to the beat of his songs, they seemed to follow their own imaginary beat with no rhyme or reason. Unfortunately the technical flaws took away from experiencing his music to the highest degree.
Khushi switched from only singing during the performance to playing the keyboard and then the guitar while delivering his vocals with equal feeling throughout the set.
By being so physically into his music, even turning his back to the crowd as he jammed his heart out into his instrument at the time, he drew the audience into this intimate bubble where it was just the crowd and his voice echoing throughout the venue. The sold out show didn’t seem to faze him as he sang to a potential of 2,800 people from the pit to the balcony.
“Freedom Falls,” a song released prior to the tour, garnered the most reaction from the crowd. The song was first written a decade ago when he was part of an indie rock band, but he remixed it into a crossover between indie, electronic and a soulful vocal style that he uses his entire body to get across. This song is from his upcoming debut album on Warner Bros. Records. He also played his prior single, “Hard to Find,” which he released in November of 2017.
All the music he played had the essence of Blake’s earlier work which made the decision for him to open for Blake seem to be an obvious one. Their styles are similar enough to be liked by the same people, but different enough that Khushi has his own place in the music world.
Khushi is currently accompanying Blake on his month long North American Tour supporting Blake’s new album “Assume Form.” The two first met a couple years ago. Khushi worked on Blake’s new album and Blake contributed production to Khushi’s upcoming debut album.
This isn’t Khushi’s first time in the spotlight though, he came into fame in 2013 and 2014 for his songs “Magpie” and “Phantoms” and had spent the past three years as part of the band Strong Asian Mothers.
The act gathered enthusiastic applause and had several fans expressing their newfound interest in the band. He ended his set thanking the crowd for being lovely and wishing them an enjoyable performance from Blake.
The artist plans to stay in Los Angeles after the tour is over instead of going back to London, “to get a new lease on life and energy with a change of pace.”
His style might not be for everyone, but Khushi’s voice has a siren like quality that makes you keep coming back for more. Khushi opens for Blake again tonight at another sold out show at The Fox.