The You Should Be Here tour is without a doubt one of the most highly anticipated tours of the summer. With nearly every date sold out, this is mere evidence that Kehlani is taking over. The Santa Ana date was no different. As soon as the doors opened, fans packed into the venue, scrambling to get as close to the stage as possible. Before the openers even performed, the Observatory was nearly filled to full capacity and the temperature inside the venue was hardly bearable due to all the bodies that filled every crevice of the venue. I have been to more than a handful of shows at this particular venue and never before has there been such a grandiose crowd for a performer.
The first of three openers was 18-year-old Ambré Perkins. Seemingly fresh-faced and naïve, she acts well beyond her years. I chatted her up for a few moments and she explained to me how she initially got the spot on the tour. Ambré penned a song about Kehlani and tweeted it to her, capturing her attention. She certainly deserved the opening spot on the tour with her candid lyrics and lush melodies. Ambré didn’t need to win the crowd over. As soon as the first few words left her lips, the crowd was in awe of her immense talent.
Trailing Ambré’s performance was the soulful Marc E. Bassy. I was fortunate enough to see Marc open for the rapper KYLE at the same venue two months prior and was already a fan due to his performance that night. This performance was even more polished and perfected than the time before. Marc’s voice is silky with a hint of raspy undertones and reminiscent of Raury, Blackbear, and the likes. Undoubtedly, the girls were swooning whenever Marc remotely glanced in their direction.
The final opener before the main event was the rapper Pell. Pell has collaborated with commercially established artists such as G-Eazy and Cherub. His cool, laid back beats and high energy during his performance was a seamless blend that got the crowd hyped up and energized after standing for hours in what essentially had become a sauna. Throughout the his set he had the crowd jumping and screaming “PELL YEAH!”. Pell is unquestionably an artist to keep tabs on. His rhymes are proof that he will be scaling the charts soon enough.
Moments after Pell’s set was finished, the audience began chanting Kehlani’s name. Kehlani’s fans, AKA the Tsunami Mob, are by far the most dedicated set of fans. Kehlani started off her set strong with the title track from her album, “You Should Be Here” and the crowd was singing every lyric with exceptional clarity. Kehlani doesn’t just sing, she puts on a show. She matches the talent of her back up dancers and oozes sex-appeal while she does it. Nearly every song she crooned the crowd passionately sang along to. Both Wale and G-Eazy rolled through to join Kehlani onstage. Even the whole Superduper crew showed up, with KYLE joining Kehlani for their song: "Just a Picture".
This 20 year-old girl from Oakland is one to be taken seriously. Her Cloud 19 mixtape was on Complex’s “50 Best Albums of 2014” list and she currently is on the cover of The Fader’s August/September issue. Not only that, but she also recently signed to Atlantic Records in May. If that isn’t a sign of a Tsunami headed our way, I don’t know what is.