Nov. 19, 2011
Chain Reaction is one of those venues that reminds me of shows I saw back in high school: a kind of ramshackle place with refrigerators full of soda and racks of candy where one might have otherwise expected a full bar, brightly colored interior spaces, and an old wooden stage. Venues like this prevent pretension and keep the air light for the night, a small town sentimentality that I kinda love.
It wasn't exactly what I had expected for K.Flay's Anaheim headlining show, though. She still rocked the stage, buzzing the place with bass and live drums that literally seemed to shake the venue. Wearing red dunks, her kicks actually kicked; even though Chain Reaction's stage isn't large, she managed to hop, spin and head bang her way around with ease.
Chain Reaction still seemed a bit too small to accommodate K.Flay's sound; I first saw her perform at Outside Lands earlier this year, and comparatively, I'd have to admit that her sound worked a little better in the larger atmosphere. This is no fault of hers, though, and the smallness of the venue eventually lent itself to the underground rap vibe of the night. When K.Flay talked, it seemed like she was talking directly to us; when she asked how many of us like to get crazy, she actually got responses.
Stage banter for the night varied as much as K.Flay's material; just like her songs are as much about partying as they are about apathy, K.Flay described her dinner (falafel wraps and chicken kabobs, good energy) before talking about being a snack wizard.
Drumming dominated the night, both in dynamics and in stage presence; having a live drummer backing her made K.Flay's act that much more intense, and an extra floor tom definitely lent itself to the heavier instrumental parts of the relatively short set.
Though the crowd was sparse, those who were there seemed to truly appreciate her music. More than a couple of people knew all of the lyrics to some songs, a feat considering the immense amount in each rap. K.Flay's mention of the I Stopped Caring in '96 EPs was met with beaming applause, and "Doctor Don't Know" was treated likewise.
In the end, the venue's size didn't really take much away from the performance. The drumming was still on point and as always K.Flay's fantastically flying words astounded ("Fast Rap"), making for an excellent show despite (or perhaps because of) the confined space they were forced onto. It's tough to take things to that super awesome level when claustrophobic like that, but K.Flay kept it together with ease, owning the stage with every dance move flying across the stage.
Oh, and for those of you capable of going--K.Flay is playing a free show at the Echo on Monday night. Go.
Critic's Bias: After I saw her at Outside Lands, a friend and I blasted I Stopped Caring in '96 in my car on our way home.
The Crowd: Remember the people who used to go to those high school shows? A few freshmen, a mom, a guy in back who's dancing like crazy, a bunch of people who know all of the lyrics. True fans, to be sure.
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Overheard in the Crowd:
"...Is there really no alcohol?"
"REEELAAX!" (in the intro to Waiting, before K.Flay even started singing)
Random Notebook Dump: I'm not entirely sure what a snack wizard is, but I'm totally going to start saying that.
"Heavy Cross Out"
"Doctor Don't Know"
"We Hate Everyone"