Brighton Music Hall is known for its intimate atmosphere, as it’s a small venue with two bars, a downstairs area and a floor that your shoes seem to mysteriously stick to. But probably the most intimate part of it is its stage—concertgoers crowd around it on their feet and are able to (if in the front) stand nearly feet away from the performer. The stage is raised, so there’s almost a feeling of the performer being worshipped. In some cases, some might say they truly are worshipping them if the artist is a favorite of theirs.
I’d been to Brighton Music Hall only once before for a show, but my experience this second time was incredibly different. This time, the venue was packed, with audience members straining against each other and craning their necks to get a glimpse of the performer on stage, who by all accounts, comes pretty damn close to being the real deal of a goddess. So who could argue with the idea that she’s someone worth worshipping?
The name of this performer is Nai Palm, lead vocalist, guitarist, and songwriter of the popular R&B band Hiatus Kaiyote. After two successful albums, scoring the band Grammy Nominations and critical acclaim, Nai Palm announced that she would be releasing her first solo album, entitled Needle Paw, on Oct. 20th. In promotion of it, the Melbourne-native has just begun a U.S. tour that covers both coasts as well as Chicago. She also recently announced another leg of the tour in Europe later this year.
Though her band Hiatus Kaiyote is known for its funky fresh music and R&B drive, Nai Palm has said in interviews that her goal with this solo album was to create something raw and naked, which she reaffirmed in a statement during her set at the concert. This certainly comes across, as her only weapons of choice are her guitar and her voice—nothing more. But the two proved to create a cosmically beautiful and a dream-like pair.
After an opening set by a good friend of Palm’s, Jaala, the artist came on stage with only her guitar (and a killer pair of platform boots that seemed something straight out of the punk rock scene of the 1980s) and used her ethereal voice and superb guitar-playing skills to enchant the audience. The set included songs off the new album, stripped-down versions of popular Hiatus Kaiyote tunes, and covers. With only her honey voice, her guitar (affectionately named Michael Jackson) and minimal stage theatrics (just a few lights and some fog from a machine), Nai Palm defined what it means to have the audience sitting at your feet in awe just because of pure talent. She’s self-taught by the way. This revelation during the show only made me more amazed of her talent.
By creating music like this, Nai Palm exposes the artist behind the sound in a way that we do not see often. The music feels intimate and creates empathy by having that raw feeling that listeners can connect with. It truly gives the impression that we are all just humans trying to make our way through this world, and the emotions that sentiment brings. One of two songs already released from the upcoming album, called “Homebody,” encapsulates this idea perfectly.
And not only Palm’s performance, but also her interaction with the audience, demonstrates this as well. Between songs, she talked and laughed with the audience and appeared with no fronts, even though she was raised higher than everyone else on stage and was in the spotlight. She’s just like the rest of us, and so we can connect with her. The intimate venue choices help with this atmosphere, making her performance a true representation of what feeling she’s trying to achieve with her art.
After the show, she made good on a comment during the set by coming out to the
merchandise table to meet and talk with fans. As I watched Nai Palm interact with her fans, she still remained in a state of connectedness and kindness—just trying to be her true self—even as hordes of people came wanting a chance of interaction.
This can only lead me to one conclusion: her music is absolutely a testament to who she is as a person. It’s raw and it’s real, just like her.
As mentioned earlier, Needle Paw arrives on October 20th, but on Spotify you can listen to two songs from her upcoming solo debut now.
I highly recommend that you do.