This year’s Zandari was the year of new discoveries for me. By and large, I’d not heard of or listened to most of the acts I saw. NINE9 was one I vaguely remember hearing about in passing, but I wasn’t sure why. (The reason, however, isn’t one I want to recount here.)
Zandari’s description of her musical style wasn’t exactly accurate. That being said, I know I’m still in for quite a surprise when I take a seat near the stage.
The absolute first thing you notice about her: She glows. That’s not a statement of exaggeration or even a pretty turn of phrase. She quite literally emits a light from her that has nothing to do with the spotlights. It’s as if her entire being is suffused with an innate luminescence. It has me utterly awed despite never have really heard anything about her.
Then she begins to sing.
Without getting too giddy, she has one of the most technically immaculate voices I’ve ever heard. Specifically from South Korea. More than the perfect pitch and her impeccable mixed voice (striking an almost perfect balance between her head and chest voice), she has a unique ability to know exactly where to place her voice. The music plays, and without thought she guides her voice like a conductor to a symphony.
Every moment of the show has an elegant quietness. She doesn’t insist upon her presence or the utter brilliance of her voice. We are at her mercy, our emotions prey to the whims of her emotion-laden siren song. It is almost like knife to the heart, knowing she held a final promise for a best friend, then hearing her voice flow so beautifully from note to note. Even in the banter she has with the audience NINE9 is elegant, poised.
But there’s an unshakeable sense of something darker, harder at the core of who she is that seeps into her music. Though I don’t understand everything she says, NINE9 is the type of artist that puts her entire being into her performance. Of course hard memories are going to find their way into every moment of her waking life. At this moment, that means the life lived on stage. And I feel it. Not even the physical separation of my camera can fully buffer the emotional weight of her standing before her.
Not until after her performance did I find out why I felt this heady emotion pouring from the stage. It still resonates with me. But that’s not to suggest that she was anything but a delight. Indeed, she has a spark in her. An undeniable love for music that’s physically easy to see and even more humbling to experience on a higher plane of consciousness.
Every single moment of NINE9’s performance was a test of my emotional fortitude. There are times throughout where I swear I’ve stopped breathing. Feel my heartbeat trip over itself and lose its rhythm. There’s such a profound energy that radiates from her. She completely fills Evan’s Lounge with her spirit. Even in the bar’s dimness, NINE9 shines with an elegant light that’s utterly breathtaking.
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