Blue hair supported by a wrapped white bandana immediately catches your eye as Stamford, Connecticut-born crooner Kevin George sings beneath red-hued lighting on Brooklyn’s Knitting Factory stage. In an era when many rising young musicians minimally perform their vocals with ample enhancement from backing tracks, KG sings through an hour of genre-bending range with ease and swagger. The confidence seems to stem from a surefire and seasoned understanding of his pocket. While he vocally varies from quick-paced rap-singing to holding floating falsetto notes, the tone always falls in a controlled sphere. The crowd — a blend of fans old and new — takes hold of the aura reverberating off his microphone, and for the hour-long set, sway within the confines of this organically communal space right in the heart of Williamsburg.
Three days after the release of KG’s fifth project, Everybody’s In My Ear, the feeling of celebration in the lights of his first show since lockdown swept from backstage to the venue floor. The show wasn’t billed as a party or congratulatory affair, so what exactly were we all celebrating? It was more specific than the technicality of industry-dictated accomplishments, it felt oddly familial. KG’s parents were in the building, but for the evening I think we all felt kind of adopted — taken in and comforted by a musical space that reminded us what it feels like to share in something so tangible.
The rhythm of the lone drummer onstage with KG evoked individuality in the setup. Manually played atmospheric backing instrumentals driven by live percussion felt like a new and distinct way of presenting things. The effect parallels how the new project sounds. As described by KG, it’s in a sort of indie-pop lane he’s new to, while still providing hip hop-centered deliveries. It takes the vocal foundation he’s built and puts it in a uniquely new soundscape.
What lies beneath the project’s title — which represents an overwhelming amount of unsolicited advice — is a need for a bit of healthy escapism. KG escapes that reality with the realization that, while everybody feels like they are in his ear, what comes from his own heart and gut is really what dictates what emerges through his vocal cords. He escapes by relying on his own instinct. A lesson we all learned or re-learned by watching him on that slightly elevated stage, and felt when he came down the steps for a second and raged with us in the crowd.
-Written by Miki Hellerbach