Kehlani had an intimate show at the Rialto Theatre last Monday. The R&B singer was not accompanied by her usual two dancers but was instead serenaded, and gave words of encouragement, to fans throughout the show. JAHKOY, Ella Mai, and Noodles opened Kehlani's SweetSexySavage Tour with performances that amped up the excitement.
JAHKOY opened. People didn't know the words but they still let loose to his songs. His smooth vocals blended with trap beats that made girls scream (yes, girls screamed!). The Toronto singer lifted the energy in the room, dancing and playing with the audience. It helped that he showed his Tucson pride by wearing a UA tee.
Ella Mai was up next. The mood transitioned from hype to relaxed. People were more familiar with her, singing along to each song. The London R&B singer didn't dance and interact with the crowd as much as the previous act. She let her melodic vocals carry her set.
The final opener turned the show into a dance party. Noodles played the most recognizable hip-hop tunes, ranging from today's hits to the best of the '90s.
Then came Kehlani.
Her live vocals were so in tune with the recorded versions of her songs that it replicated listening to the SweetSexySavage album. The additional percussionist made the performance stand out; snare and symbols crashed on the rises and drops of songs, and Kehlani danced life into the show, dancing to each drum break. The audience got chaotic whenever the singer stopped singing to give up words of advice. Multiple times throughout her speeches, groups of people would begin talking heavily as if the show was going into intermission. During a speech about empathy and self-care, someone made fun of her difficult past. Kehlani got security to escort him out and continued on with the show. The singer then brought out burning Palo Santo to clear the negative energy in the room. Despite some unsavory crowd interactions, she put on a great show.