When I think of the best concerts I’ve been to, Kindness will definitely be at the top of the list. U Street Music Hall buzzed with unbridled energy and wild joy on March 19 when Adam Bainbridge, known as Kindness, put on a show that was equal parts exceptional music talent and warm familiarity.
First off, the opener was New Orleans rapper Pell, a performer who matched the musical energy and personality of the main act. Pell’s flow and musicality reminded me of Chance the Rapper, but the lyrics and storytelling were all his own. Although I was unfamiliar with his music beforehand, I was a huge fan by the end of his set because of his great honesty and vivacity. Not a single person in the venue was motionless while he was on and even those unfamiliar with his music really threw themselves into it. By the end, everyone was chanting his phrase, “Pell yeah!” Kindness and his band made a cameo appearance during Pell’s set that showcased Pell’s ability to perform with a live band, something some rappers lack with their reliance of prerecorded beats and DJs.
And then, it was Kindness’s turn to bring down the house and wow, he really did. From his fancy footwork, to the band’s tight instrumentals, to the charming vocals from the background singers and to his connection with the audience, Kindness had everything I’d ever wanted in a live performer. He was so invested in his music but he wasn’t overly serious about it. He had fun without being a rude prick. He was dancing and having a great time and so everyone else in the crowd had a great time too.
At some points, I thought I was seeing a comedy act by how hard I was laughing because he was such a genuinely funny guy. His guitarist – who had a wonderful outfit on with a stylish shirt I had to have – was from D.C. and apparently, his parents were supposed to be in the crowd that night. But they were really late and Kindness urged him to call them on his phone right on stage. What ensued was a drawn out Prince cover and lots of dancing; Kindness even went down into the crowd! Other stage antics included pulling an audience member on-stage to sing a song – and really, this person knew all the words and honestly should’ve been part of the background singers – and bringing up these two women, one of them who was too shy to approach some guy at the venue so of course, the only solution was to have her dance on stage in front of everyone. It was actually really sweet and they seemed to have fun up there (and hopefully, whoever she wanted to talk to ended up talking to her!).
In summary, Kindness is the best performer (or at least, one of the best) I’ve ever seen. Though there were a few technical problems with the sound equipment, with levels being off and shoddy mics, he was able to sing and perform effortlessly and engage the audience in different ways. If I knew he would be this amazing in concert, I would’ve gotten into him much earlier, since his debut album released in 2012 instead of just joining the program last year when his sophomore album Otherness came out. I absolutely cannot wait until he tours again; you can bet I’ll get tickets as soon as dates are announced.
Check out one of my fave songs from Otherness, “Who Do You Love?” featuring Robyn: