MANILA -- Short and sweet. Hours flew by fast, thanks to affective performances by headliners Jeremy Zucker and Kiana Valenciano during Karpos Live Mix 8, held last September 24 at the ABS-CBN Vertis Tent in Quezon City.
Kiana Valenciano can truly sing.
Vocal prowess is something that this OPM R&B songstress has in spades. From her first song ("Caught You") to her last, Valenciano sang her runs flawlessly and effortlessly.
“I’m so nervous, but thanks for coming out,” Valenciano told the crowd.
Her stage presence belied that statement, as she strutted on stage in her orange jumpsuit, interacting with her accompanying musicians (DJ, drums, and saxophone), and even taking photos of the crowd while singing. Her voice as well, sounded confident and had that husky, breathy and silky quality that’s also on her records.
And while there were no super choreographed segments like in her "Does She Know" video, Valenciano also busted some moves during her set, and every time that she did, the crowd went wild and danced with her as well, especially in songs like "5:30," "Keep It Secret," and the sexy (especially thanks to that sax) "Faded Love," among others.
New songs from her upcoming release were also showcased during her set like "No Rush," a bop that featured Daft Punk-like synths, and "Corners," a song about lingering feelings when a relationship’s over.
While there were some technical difficulties by the time "Does She Know" came along, Valenciano had the crowd at the palm of her hand, singing along with her, as she laughed and took pictures with the audience.
Even with nine songs, the set felt short. Her last song, "Get Together," a highly danceable summery road trip anthem ended her set on a very appropriate happy and hopeful upbeat note.
In a black hoodie, Jeremy Zucker was welcomed by crazy screams and loud cheers onto the Karpos Live Mix 8 stage. His first song "firefly" had him smiling at the crowd, perhaps he was surprised at the crowd singing along with him from the get-go.
“It’s my first time in the Philippines, and it’s just the warmest welcome I could imagine,” Zucker told his audience.
This warm welcome extended to very involved audience participation especially in his songs like "all the kids are depressed," "better off," as well as his cover of John Denver’s "Take Me Home, Country Roads."
There was a lot of screaming, but there were moments of silence and reflection, as audiences and Zucker mourned lost love and reveled in frustrated anger.
“Can you be as quiet in the room as possible?” Zucker asked, before launching into a beautiful cover of Frank Ocean’s "Thinking of You." He followed this with his song, "thinking 2 much," a slow tune about regret and overthinking that was enriched with a vocoder effect that beautifully distorted the most emotional parts of the song, like underlining what was important.
Another emotional moment was when Zucker performed "Circles," a song that he only plays “in good crowds.”
“If you like my music, you know I like sad songs, the next one is …sad,” prefaced Zucker before singing, "end," a song about feeling helpless and hopeless, which also fits the theme of desire, another song that had the crowd in throes of emotion.
There were more upbeat portions to the program.
Cathartic jumping was the action of choice during the fun drops of the electronica-infused "wildfire." While "comethru," his most popular track, was a celebratory moment, both for Zucker and the crowd.
“You are an amazing crowd… To be on the other side of the world is insane, thank you for giving me a chance to play for you,” said Zucker.
"Talk is Overrated," perhaps one of his most sing-able songs, was his last song before the crowd insisted on an encore. Zucker played "Ghosts," then promised then crowd, “I promise you right now, that I will be back.”
The still-thirsty crowd answered with a roar, they can’t wait.