Just days after Scooter Braun’s biggest success played two shows at Philips Arena one of the manager’s rising stars played to a crowd just a few miles away at the Tabernacle.
Tori Kelly is hardly unknown. The American Idol reject turned YouTube sensation was joined by James Bay for a mashup of their respective singles “Hollow” and “Let It Go” at the Grammys earlier this year.
But, she’s not a megastar like Justin Bieber, either. And, that’s OK.
Whether she’s belting out powerful notes or delivering fragile vocal runs in her head voice, Kelly can entertain a crowd just by plucking a few strings on her guitar and telling a few stories.
The audience screamed every time Kelly nailed a vocal run. And she nailed them often. But, even if she didn’t, it didn’t seem like her fans wouldn’t mind. They were already cheering her on before the most anticipated note in “Nobody Love” had been delivered. Popular songs such “Should’ve Been Us” and “Hollow” went over well with the eager audience, but Kelly’s voice seemed to get lost among album cuts such as “Expensive.”
Stripped down songs such as “Daydream” and “Paper Hearts” turned into singalongs and, despite the fact that Kelly had a band, still managed to feel intimate.
Many of the singer’s fans fell in love with Kelly when it was just her and a guitar, so it’s fitting that those moments were the highlights of the show.
A medley of the singer’s popular YouTube covers (Justin Timberlake’s “Suit & Tie,” Michael Jackson’s “PYT” and Frank Ocean’s “Thinkin’ Bout You”) felt like a huge celebration of Kelly and the fact that she was able to mobilize fans and create a career from an internet platform.
The section of the show was also a reminder of how far she has to go as an artist, however.
Watching the show, you got the sense that as she refines her sound and grows as a songwriter, her live shows will improve, too.
Kelly has a few popular singles under her belt now, but she still hasn’t surpassed her viral versions of other people’s music.
Her opening act, Thirdstory, isn’t a stranger to the YouTube scene, either.
A trio that describes themselves as “a group of funky, soulful, three-part harmony dudes,” they opened with a nearly unrecognizable cover of Taylor Swift’s “Style,” transforming the euphoric pop hit into a soulful groove.
While you’re revisiting Kelly’s old videos, you should check out their channel, specifically their harmonious cover of Sam Smith’s “I’m Not the Only One.”
And, if you’re planning to see Kelly on the “Unbreakable Tour,” make sure you get there on time. This is an opening act you’ll actually want to see.