Words and Photos by Haley Sousa
BUFFALO — As K. Flay’s silhouette appeared at the back of the stage while the lights in the venue dimmed, the crowd behind me began to rush towards the front in anticipation of the hour and half performance from Kristine Flaherty, also known as K. Flay. I’ve been a fan of the singer for a few years now; shortly after she released Every Where Is Somewhere, I heard “Blood in the Cut” for the first time and fell in love with the unique raspy-ness in her voice; that song and “High Enough” remain in my playlist to this day. Needless to say, as is the case with most of the artists I have the chance to see live, I was extremely excited to see her. It’s rare when I go see a solo artist as opposed to bands. The last time I saw a solo artist was Billie Eilish this summer and I’d say that their performances are extremely comparable to each other even though their sound is completely different. Although they both draw influences from hip hop and pop music, K. Flay’s music is much more upbeat and reminiscent of rock n’ roll than Billie’s, but they both emulate the same energy and confidence on stage.
When K. Flay took the stage, you could feel the energy in the crowd go from zero to one hundred. Her set kicked off with “Not in California” which features a passionate monologue in the beginning of the song about how climate change is affecting our earth. This monologue allowed her to build the anticipation of the set while she crouched on the highest riser in a silhouette swaying back in forth, soaking up the screams from the crowd. Next, she played “This Baby Don’t Cry” and “Bad Vibes” off her newest album, Solutions. It was clear these two songs were fan favorites. I was standing in the photo pit during these two songs and I could hear the fans at the barricade screaming the lyrics behind me even while wearing ear plugs and standing next to the giant monitors on the stage; her fans might be some of the most passionate fans I’ve seen at a show, from the giant grins on their faces, to hearing them when she would put the mic up to the crowd, there is no doubt that she has a strong fanbase here in Buffalo.
She then played two songs off of her second album “Black Wave” and “Giver” which illicited the same energy from the crowd as the first four songs. By this point, I had moved my way up to the first balcony to watch the show, but the crowd just kept amping up their energy with every song she played. The couple in front of me was jumping up and down and screaming the lyrics with each other on the first balcony from start to finish (it was kind of the cutest thing I’ve ever seen, too). In our interview with her, she stated that the crowds have had amazing energy during this tour, but I didn’t realize the extent of her statement until I witnessed it myself. I mean, in my opinion, it was hard to not jump around with Flaherty; her energy was off the charts on stage. From dancing, to jumping, to headbanging, and everything in between, she gave an outstanding performance without losing her breath, which was pretty impressive. Even at times, I would think to myself “There’s no way she’s gonna hit that note after all that jumping”, but she hit it. Every. Single. Time.
A few more songs passed. Given that she played all of the songs off of Solutions and added a couple from Every Where Is Somewhere and even from her first release, Life as a Dog, during her set, by halfway through, it was clear the crowd had exhausted themselves and needed a break from her high energy music (even though, K. Flay never wavered in her energy level, the crowd definitely did). At this point, she played three acoustic songs “Nervous”, “Can’t Sleep”, and even one cover of Liz Phair’s “Fuck & Run” with just her and an electric guitar.
Before playing “Fuck & Run” she gave a very heartfelt monologue, reflecting upon her time at Stanford, her struggles, and meeting her current girlfriend to which the crowd gave their “aw’s”. K. Flay finished out her set with “High Enough”, starting with a story about how her tour manager was trying to buy her a bottle of liquor before her performance and her response was “Buffalo already gets me High Enough” before rolling into the intro of the song which I thought was a clever touch to the end of her show. Of course, although she wanted the crowd to believe that was the end, it wasn’t because she hadn’t played two of her ultimate crowd favorites, “Sister” and “Blood in the Cut” which were performed as her encore; in fact, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crowd in Town Ballroom be as loud as this one as they legitimately screamed encore, because they knew they couldn’t leave the show before hearing two of their favorites.
Check out K. Flay’s new album, Solutions, here.