Kaki King, Sonya Kitchell / Tin Angel, Philadelphia, PA / Feb. 3, 2005
Little-known fact: Philadelphia LOVES adult-contemporary music. Seriously. Every white person in this city owns Come Away With Me. Every black person owns Who Is Jill Scott?: Words and Sounds, Vol. 1. (A lot of people even own both!) Philly loves adult-contemporary so much, it recently erected a shiny new temple to it. Of course, the old temples are still in business, too. Like the Tin Angel, where over a hundred people trekked to on a cold Thursday night in February to see two not-famous-at-all women play acoustic guitar. Would that happen in New York? Hell no. Because NYC does not love adult-contemporary like Philly does.
The opener, Sonya Kitchell, is 15 years old like Mischa Barton is 18 years old, at least when she’s singing. She sounds like what the Maggie May in Lester Bangs’ short story based on the song would sound like if she sang adult-contemporary music. Like she hasn’t seen sunlight in the past thirty years because she hasn’t left her barstool. But when Sonya’s not singing, she is all giggly and awkward and apologetic. As she should be, because she’s 15 and that is what real live 15 year olds act like. Also, I could see her potbelly peeking out from under her J. Crew cardigan, and that made me happy because I, too, have a potbelly.
Kaki King—holy shit. She is the Conor Oberst of acoustic finger-picking. The John Fahey of hot girls. The, uh, Ywngie Malmsteen of adult-contemporary. Girlfriend rips on her axe like it stole her man, but then she starts giving it a massage. Her fingers are tiny little robot warriors mowing down every guy who ever gave a girl a dirty look when she walked into a guitar store. And when she finishes a song, she rolls her eyes and tosses her hair like “whatever, that was easy.” She knows that every person in the audience wants to have her babies, so she gets onstage in a frumpy sweater and big purple furry scarf/collar thing. But after three songs, she takes the sweater off, and she’s wearing a see-through tank top and black bra! The Tin Angel is flooded with drool.
Worship this woman, motherfuckers.