k.flay Rocks The Van Buren
Photos and review by Kelly Fox
The Van Buren in Phoenix is quickly becoming one of the most happening places in the downtown area—hosting everything from dance parties to EDM shows to all-out rock shows. One of the first of those rock shows in 2018 was K.Flay with Sir Sly. A late show, the room eventually sold out to a crowd of all ages. Teens, twenties, dads, and kiddos all packed in to see one of the largest rising stars of the year.
You may not know that you know Sir Sly, but if you listen to alternative radio, there’s no doubt you’ve heard “High.” It frequently follows Portugal. the Man’s “Feel it Still” in discussions of alternative hits of the summer of 2017. If you’re unfamiliar with the rest of their discography, but dig their hit, Sir Sly has a cohesive but certainly not repetitive sound.
Their set flowed together into a synth-y dreamland, with one song melting into the next, into the next. Illuminated by a glowing brain structure, the trio paused for little interaction with the crowd, but did include a Kanye-West inspired calling-out of recent political events.
So who is K.Flay? She’s nominated for a Grammy for “Blood in the Cut,” which has received quite a bit of radio play, as well as iHeart Radio’s Best New Rock/Alternative Artist. She’s also Kristine Flaherty from Wilmette, Illinois. She began writing hip hop, and has produced grade-A material that has somehow flown under the mainstream radar. She’s an entire enigma, but all you really need to know now is that she’s a fucking rock star.
With hair that doesn’t look like it’s been washed in a week and a half, eyeliner nearly down to her cheekbones, and red, leather, platform shoes, K.Flay dominated the giant stage. It took about a minute and a half before she began whipping her hair, practically doing backbends, and stomping all around. She boasts mind-blowing technical abilities, as well as pipes that sound like glorious a mixture of eerie innocence and smoking two packs a day.
K.Flay has only cracked mainstream audiences recently, but she’s been creating recorded music for a decade. The jaws of those who came because they wanted to party and knew of “Blood in the Cut” quickly dropped when she broke out her hip hop material, giving an edge most rock shows lack. Her set was anything but predictable, overlapping eras and giving an encore to those who were there for more than just the hits.
I can’t seem to understand why K.Flay didn’t receive mainstream attention five years ago, but the industry is certainly glad that she finally did. Her already killer tracks take on a new dimension when she brings them to life on stage, attracting people of all ages who just like good music. If you’re one of those people, the Everywhere is Somewhere tour has only just begun, and you should make sure to catch it in a city near you.