Anticipation was high as House of Blues guests were eagerly waiting for Chicago rapper K.Flay to finally step out onto the stage. Growing impatient, the crowd stirred just before the lights dimmed and the curtain drew back to reveal a girl behind a small assortment of mixers, dressed like she was going to teach a yoga meditation class. This was not K.Flay. Before the crowd could complain, she began to sing, and the crowd soon forgot they were ever growing impatient at all. Her name was KSRA, and her beautiful vocals and slick beats with ticking hi hats pleased the audience quite nicely. While the set up lacked low end oomph, this was likely because her feed was sadly not coming through the main house woofers.
Nonetheless, KSRA performed wonderfully, gracing the stage in a dreamy, joyous state, flawlessly keeping track of every element of her workstation. Her ability to manage her array of electronic equipment – keeping beats on cue with machine-like consistency – while performing breathtaking operatic vocal runs with astonishing ease and precision was exceedingly impressive. Amazingly, she was able to do all this and maintain a bubbly free-spirited composure throughout. Maybe her yoga-inspired set and wardrobe design go beyond just an image and are reflective of her personal lifestyle, harnessing principles that enable her to calm herself and perform with zen-like focus. Or perhaps her extensive training in opera singing gives her a crown of confidence that frees her to concentrate on well-timed commands on her workstation.
KSRA demonstrating mastery of her live looping style in her performance of Red Letter
Regardless of the source of her focus, her passion for her craft goes without question. Following her education at the University of Michigan, KSRA, Rachel Sarah Thomas, left Ann Arbor for a journey of self-discovery. After beginning her act in 2011 following some bizarre cosmic signaling, she charged ahead, drawing influences from legends like Mariah Carey, Prince and Whitney Houston, even playing at a TEDx event in the summer of 2013. Throughout her time as KSRA, Rachel continued to woo the fans of Chicago at festivals like SXSW with her angelic and sultry singing style.
On stage at the House of Blues, she mentioned that she’s finished recording her second album but hasn’t yet released it. That hasn’t stopped her from working on her third album, even surprising the audience with a special treat by performing the track Get Me High, from her unreleased third album. Judging by the response, I’m sure the crowd didn’t mind at all.