Kiesza w/ Andreas Moss
Antone’s Austin, Texas
by Phillip Johnson
The doors were open at Antone’s, which allowed the thick, humid summer air into the iconic room. This didn’t stop the crowd from swaying and dancing into the night that was set to the soundtrack of Canadian pop-songstress Kiesza and opener Andreas Moss.
Andreas Moss has quite the presence on stage. With his long blond braids and beaming smile, his energy brought the crowd to its feet. His infectious music has influences in hip-hop, reggae, r&b, and soul, which immediately started a dance party. “Everyone in this room deserves love”, is what Moss proclaimed to the crowd. The message of loving yourself no matter what is at the center of his music. With tracks like “Kudos” and “Minivan”, he opened the night with love and light for all.
Kiesza’s story is an inspiring one. In 2014, she burst on the scene with the global hit “Hideaway”. Almost two years later, Kiesza (born Kiesa Rae Ellestad) was involved in a near fatal car accident which left her with a traumatic brain injury. When she told that story on stage, I was in awe because of how vibrant and full of spirit she was.
With a black keytar draped over her shoulder and her mic stand lit up red, she opened her set with “Run Renegade”, which is also the opening track to her 2020 album “Crave”. It was a great opener that pumped up the crowd with its intense 80’s dance-pop quality.
Anchored by her touring band of Rayna Zemel (guitar, bass) and Patty Schemmel (drums, most famously with Hole), the trio had chemistry for days. During “Stars Don’t Shine”, Kiesza and Zemel had a moment when they were back to back, flashing grand smiles, and losing themselves in the song. The adoration that Kiesza had for both Schemmel and Zemel (who also declared Schemmel as one of her idols) resonated.
She may be known for her high-energy tracks, but she brought it down for a solo version of “Sound Of A Woman”. Just her and her electric mandolin, she belted the ballad with conviction and power. It didn’t take her long to bring the dancehall vibe as she later sang one of the stand out songs of the night, “Can’t Be Saved”.
The night would not have been complete without “Hideaway”, her smash that has more than 268 million streams on Spotify. The aforementioned thick summer air became hotter because the intensity of the dancing got ratcheted up to 11. It didn’t stop there as she ended the night with “Crave”, a classic synth-dance love song. When the chorus drops “I CRAVE!” and the house lights came on, I jumped up a bit; my camera bouncing to the rhythm.
At one point, Kiesza said that she had only one rule, “No bad vibes”. It definitely fits with her music and style. A simple rule that was not broken on that night.