by Patrick Meissner
Naama Kates has had better shows. It wasn’t anything that any one person did. The music sounded fine, and the atmosphere was perfect. For one reason or another, the whole thing just didn’t click on Friday night. Judging by Naama’s expression at the end of the set, it was clear that she felt the same way.
Room 5 in West Hollywood was bustling as Kates and her band rushed to set up their equipment, late for their set from the outright. Perhaps the venue was too bustling, because by the time Kates made it to the opening lines of her first single, “King for a Day,” hardly anyone was listening to the music.
There was no break between the pre-show, setup calamities, and the actual set. The band should have vacated the stage, or maybe Kates should have addressed the crowd with more command. Regardless of how it could have been better handled, the music started in competition with the conversational roar of every other person in that venue. Kates’ opener was lost amidst the rumble of voices, and the first half of the set sort of careened from there.
The drummer left for a song, right after the opener. It was a huge showstopper and left Kates struggling to find a way to fill time. For him, it was a pretty unprofessional move, not to mention the fact that he left the rest of his group just hanging there. Things eventually picked up when he finally made it back to his set, but the increase in energy had nothing to do with him.
Kates’ set picked up energy as she approached her last four or so songs, because she started to find her own rhythm. As the set went on, the crowd quieted down, and Kates could actually hear herself. It also helps that the majority of her more melodic songs are budgeted at the end of her set list.
These are the songs that she should be boasting, especially as she is getting on her feet as a vocalist. Songs like her single, “King for a Day,” are complex, jazzy tracks with an emphasis on staccato and a very narrow appeal. Her more melodious tracks are the actual ear catchers, and they have a much more universal appeal to listeners. Perhaps she could plan for those to be right out of the gate next time.
Naama Kates is just getting her legs underneath her, and the next few years of her career are not doubt going to be exciting to watch. She has all the makings of an act that will truly stand out. There is just a little bit of work that needs to be done before it can all be adequately communicated on stage. In time she’ll find her voice, her drummer will learn to stick behind his kit, and her live shows will be much, much better.