Nikka Costa at The Belly Up Chris Dier 6.15.9
I must first acknowledge that it was a Sunday night, and the end of a very long and stressful weekend. I was in need of transiency and a major change in perspective. I was looking forward to this show remembering the raw sexuality of Nikka Costa’s performance six years ago. I needed to be taken elsewhere.
Perhaps it was because it was a Sunday night performance, or the Lakers were winning the championship, but I have never seen the Belly Up so empty. I had room to stretch out, put my feet up and move my way across the floor without rubbing asses (or bellies in my case). The club was disappointingly only about ¼ full. Their loss is my gain right?
The opening act was JD Webb, who according to his bio should have been much better. His performance was self indulgent, egocentric and soulless, a major flaw for a soul singer. He was completely disconnected with the audience, and seemed disinterested in his performance. Vocally, his back-up singers out performed him. Enough said.
The crowd grew, still only about ½ full, in anticipation of Nikka’s entrance. From the first note, the vibe changed. The line between audience and performer blurred. Everyone on stage grooved. Everyone in the audience grooved. This is what I needed.
Nikka’s voice was fervent, expelling raw and powerful soul while she gyrated and grinded her way through several songs. She covered some from her newest record and several of her more popular songs. She joked about the masculinity of the men in the audience who sung along in their best Clint Eastwood voice. She laughed, she smiled, she was having fun and loving every second of it. In stark contrast to her opener, Nikka was there for us, for me.
The band was tight, funky bass lines, fluid keys, guitar, drum, and trombone all gelling and grooving rhythmically and beautifully. They didn’t even skip a beat when Nikka jumped on drums. As much as I wanted to just sit there I couldn’t. Everybody was either up and moving or bobbing in their seats. The zombies of an hour ago were awake and alive. Watching Nikka on stage would make anybody rise (I could pass up the pun).
There is something innately sexy about a woman who feels and performs so passionately. Something stirs within, and even the most conservative, homely, and vanilla become strippers. Six years ago, Nikka Costa did that to her audience. Last night she did it again.