Alina Baraz Velvet Underground, Toronto ON, March 21
Published Mar 22, 2017As Toronto's weather drifted from its first hints of spring back into a wintery grey throughout the day, 21-year-old, L.A.-based artist Alina Baraz was making a transition of her own — playing her first headlining concert in Canada's biggest city. After a digital meeting in 2013 on Soundcloud, Alina started working with Danish electronic producer Galimatias, and the pair went on to create their ethereal collaborative EP, Urban Flora.
The EP would launch Baraz's career, and set the scene for the 22-date "Let's Get Lost" tour. As Toronto's intimate Velvet Underground quickly filled with fans who quietly warmed up inside, the DJ entertained the crowd for almost two hours with a quirky mix of R&B that included chillwave, traditional and even classic cuts from artists like Marvin Gaye.
Then, with no introduction, Baraz burst onto the stage and straight into her performance. Although it wasn't the smoothest transition from DJ to artist, her presence was met by an onslaught of cheers and screams from the crowd.
Baraz's seemingly effortless vocals captivated the crowd. Although her music tends to be categorized simply as pop, her music pulls on heartstrings and playing with our deepest inner fears, which explains why she's become a favourite amidst the newest alt-R&B/soul generation, including Toronto's own Daniel Caesar, who stood nonchalantly with the crowd in support.
Supported by live instrumentation and an entrancing lightshow, Baraz performed "Show Me" and "Make You Feel," two singles that immediately seduced the crowd. She continued with more tracks from Urban Flora: "Fantasy," "Maybe and "Can I," all of which continued to cast a hypnotic spell on her fans.
She was a woman of very few words between songs, so when Baraz spoke, the crowd held on every word. "I wouldn't be here without you," she told the crowd as she approached the end of her 40-minute set. "I want to perform the first single I ever wrote." Then, she launched into "Drift," a mesmerizing ode to love's complications.
As her set came to a close, Baraz perked up as she introduced her latest single, "Eclectic," featuring 18-year El Paso, Texas artist Khalid. Compared to her Urban Flora tracks, "Electric" felt quicker, but still rooted by her carefree, compelling and seductive vocals.
"It's not a song to sway to, it's also not a song to dance to — it's like a medium-sway," I overheard amidst the audience. It suggests the idea that Baraz is an artist who doesn't care what pace her career is moving at, but rather, which pace works best for her.