Westward Music Festival day two: Kelela, Ravyn Lenae, and more

Kelela and Kallitechnis at the Vogue Theatre and Ravyn Lenae and Schwey at Venue Nightclub, 9/14/18

Kelela. www.spin.com

Westward Music Festival continued Friday night (Sept. 14) with highly anticipated performances by Ravyn Lenae at Venue Nightclub and Kelela across the street at the Vogue Theatre.

First at Venue were local band Schwey. They had as much chill as funk, often within the same song. Whether they were singing or rapping, they kept the energy high. Fans popped when the two vocalists playfully moved their rubber band bodies in synchronized movements. Schwey told the audience a new album was on its way. “When?” someone asked. One of the vocalists shrugged. “Sometime.” V. chill.

At only 19 years old, she has released three EPs, opened for SZA and fellow Chicago rapper Noname, and worked with Steve Lacy of the Internet and more Chicago rappers, Smino and Mick Jenkins. (You might have guessed correctly: Lenae is a Chicagoan.)

Lenae is a classically trained singer. She showed off her vocal power with particularly strong performances on “Sticky” and “Everything Above.” Both were prime examples of her sound that she calls “futuristic soul.”

Ravyn Lenae. www.artisticmanifesto.com

Lenae began most of her songs with a vague personal story that was almost always about a relationship and that always touched on a theme. For emotional and physical distance, there was “Computer Love.” For unrequited love and being friend zoned, there was “4 Leaf Clover.” She finished with the message that it’s okay to outgrow people, “people who don’t share your vision.” With fans fawning over her entire performance, shouting their love for her, it was clear her fans won’t outgrow her any time soon.

Over at the Vogue, following Lenae’s headlining set, Kallitechnis made her second appearance of the weekend. She showed off more of the same from the night before at the Rio Theatre. This time, though, the crowd had room to stand and groove, and they took advantage of it. The Vogue patrons seemed to have been more her crowd; at the very least, they were more impressed than Thursday’s audience when she announced she had just released a new track with Innanet James and Pusha T.

Fans who turned up for Kelela knew her songs well. They sang along even though her songs are mostly frosty, submerged electronic soundscapes. Her music was austere and perfectly matched by the undressed stage that only had a table where her producer was docked. Even the lights were mostly static.

Last night, Westward Music Festival keeps the music flowing through downtown Vancouver with Kali Uchis, a special solo set by Angel Olsen, and more. Check back later today for day three coverage.

Leslie Ken Chu

Leslie Ken Chu