Not many things can top hazy summer nights in Brooklyn soundtracked by indie musicians and their endless supply of talent and energy. NXTWAVE, an events and artist management company founded by high school students in the tristate area and Maryland, kicked off their SoundWAVE Acoustic Tour on August 8 at The Living Gallery. With additional dates in Westchester and Bethesda, SoundWAVE offers intimate acoustic performances by rising indie soloists and bands. Overall, it was a beautiful evening; the audience was treated to unpolished and authentic performances by a slew of artists who could very well be tomorrow’s biggest pop sensations.
Nikki Nicole kicked off the evening with a trio of virtually flawless vocal performances. Beginning with a cover of Jessie Reyez‘s “Figures,” Nikki displayed a cool confidence that radiated throughout the room. Her two original songs and “Caught Up On You” and “Let It Rain,” were in the R&B/pop vein of Kiana Ledé. The funk influences of “Let It Rain” were a nice and subtle change in momentum that kept her set compelling. Keisha Monique then took the stage and ripped through two originals and two covers. Monique’s voice has the earthiness of SZA, the smokiness of Etta James, and agility and overall prowess that is reminiscent of our great vocalists. Monique knows her voice incredibly well and she uses her instrument to its full extent. Whether she’s putting her own spin on the wailing bridge of Lady Gaga’s “Shallow” or dipping into the lower end of her range on original tracks like “Beautiful” or “Own the Night,” Monique impresses. As if her technical vocal prowess wasn’t incredible enough, Monique proceeded to sing in and both English and Spanish throughout her set. Her sultry R&B influenced “Own the Night” closed out her set, while her bilingual cover of Shawn Mendes’ and Camila Cabello’s “Señorita” was a highlight. Rising rapper, Smurfy, also made a surprise appearance to perform his part on “Own the Night,” and the two had great chemistry onstage.
Rising female vocalists was the theme of the night as 4/6 of the lineup were extremely talent young women Siréne (aka Jordi Polycarpe) was the third performer to take the stage. From her first song, “118,” Siréne captivated the crowd. Her set was soulful and honest. Siréne probably emoted the best out of any of the night’s performers, and she had one of the best moments of audience interaction during her cover of Alicia Keys’ “Jane Doe.” And then there was Olivia Cella. In a set comprised mostly of originals, Olivia’s last two performances were by far the most interesting. “Caught Up,” her most recent single, was a sweet moment as Olivia dedicated her performance to her boyfriend, who was in the crowd. Olivia’s set was mostly pitch perfect, but her most human and beautiful moment came during a voice crack-filled cover of Ariana Grande’s “God is a woman.” Olivia’s guitarist, Geoff of Doubleday, gave an impromptu performance of one excellent original song, “Roads of Gold,” and a sublime cover of John Mayer’s “New Light.” Finally, Similar Kind, closed out the night with a gorgeous set. The lead vocalist had tone that was reminiscent of Hayley Williams and their cover of The Jackson 5’s “Want You Back” was the best moment of the entire night.
The first stop of the SoundWAVE Acoustic Tour was an absolute success. The artists were inspiring and downright incredible and the folks who put everything together (NXTWAVE) have a bright future ahead of them.