An hour outside of the city of Chicago, something spectacular was taking place. Located in the far away suburbs near Joliet, a small bar that doubles as a music venue was swarming with colorful characters from all walks of life. Heads covered in bandanas and braided-up hair dominated much of the crowd on this particular night. A smoky atmosphere surrounded the dimly lit stage, which was only about a foot off the ground, and had no barricade to separate the performers from the audience. Stacks of speakers adorned the far left and far right sides of the stage. A brick-like wall far in the background gave the stage a grittier exterior. The small crowd of about a hundred people or so gathered around the stage in anticipation for the main act of the night. Squeezing in tight and pushing to the front, the crowd built up a heat from all of the bodies standing so close. As a quiet lull seeped in, out of nowhere the first notes of a song blared from the sound system. “Welcome To The Jungle” by Guns N’ Roses screamed out of the speakers as the main attraction had arrived. Irv Da Phenom took the lead as Krizz Kaliko followed to the front of the stage. Both dressed in custom Strange Music vests, they showed up looking like superstars. The crowd let out a small roar, and before they knew it, Krizz had jumped right into “Simon Says” as the explosive opener. The duo moved in perfectly timed choreography, and the crowd squeezed in even tighter, trying to reach the front. Most of these fans knew that they would never again have the opportunity to see Krizz Kaliko in such a setting. The fans were up close and face to face with Krizz. The intimate performance was working for Krizz, as his talent came through louder than ever before. Being so close to his fans, Krizz fed off the energy and put on a show that would rival any other performance normally seen at the House of Blues or larger venues. The fans in attendance became part of a very special night. For most artists, performing so close to the fans can be a panic inducing experience. Krizz on the other hand, took full advantage. Like many other artists before him, Krizz Kaliko knows the benefits of small venue performance. It takes a talented individual to hold his own against a smaller crowd.
For decades, indie and folk artists have made a living performing in small intimate venues. The café or bar setting has served them well, as many have managed to build regional followings. The stripped-down and oftentimes grimy atmosphere gives the artists a rare opportunity to connect with the audience. Candid performances like these are also excellent for artists looking to fine tune their craft. With an artist like Krizz Kaliko, major venue performances are a normal occurrence. Bigger venues are an obvious choice for artists who are capable to packing them nightly. Sometimes though, performing on a large scale tour can make an artist forget what it is like to be face to face with an audience. Faced with quiet moments, and sometimes even hecklers, artists caught in the middle of a small performance quickly need to adapt. These are the skills that can then be transferred over to the big stage performances. Once you can control a crowd of fifty people, you can be confident enough to control a crowd of five hundred. Not all artists are capable of adapting though. Many times, the smaller crowds can strike fear into a performer right in the middle of their show. Too many times have these artists relied on big receptive crowds. Once they are placed in a smaller venue where everything can be heard and seen, the panic can be seen on their face. Krizz Kaliko though, has proven to be experienced enough to switch it into a different gear. His small venue performances might as well be in front of a thousand people. It makes no difference to him. The energy is all the same and on any given night, the shocking genius of Krizz Kaliko is all gas, no brakes on stage.
With Krizz Kaliko wrapping up his headlining gig on the Strange Noize Tour 2011, fans across the nation have been able to see firsthand what it’s like to be so close to the action. Thanks to the tour, Krizz is managing to expand his solo tour circuit, and fans can expect to see more of Krizz in the near future. Whether it’s a small bar outside of Chicago or the Paid Dues festival, you can always count on the same blow out performance from Krizz Kaliko. That’s Kali Baby!
–Victor Sandoval, Strange Music Blogs Contributor
Follow me on Twitter for more: @VicMSandoval