For first time, singer performs songs from latest album ‘It Was Good Until It Wasn’t’
Live music, fun and safety were in abundance at Audi Presents: Summer Drive-In Concert starring Grammy-nominated R&B singer/songwriter Kehlani.
Celebrating frontline and essential workers as well as others supporting the Los Angeles community in the wake of COVID-19, the event was staged at Calamigos Ranch nestled in the hills of Malibu, Calif., Thursday evening (July 16).
“This is so different,” Kehlani shouted out to guests and fans sitting inside 60 socially distanced and sanitized vehicles provided by Audi. “I’m usually touching people’s hands. But tonight, I’m touching your hands in spirit. This is a new, cool experience.”
Opening her 45-minute set with “All Me” featuring Keyshia Cole, Kehlani apologized for being out of breath. “I haven’t sung in three months,” she explained. “I’ve been in my house.”
From that point on, Kehlani gave it her all as she performed a set list curated from her several mixtapes and two albums. In fact, Thursday night marked the first time she performed songs from her well-received second album released in May, It Was Good Until It Wasn’t. Among those crowd-pleasing selections were “Toxic,” “Water,” “Hate the Club” featuring Masego, “F&MU,” “Grieving” featuring James Blake and “Can I” featuring Tory Lanez.
Rounding out the show were a couple of tracks from her 2017 album, SweetSexySavage (“Distraction,” “Crzy”), as well as “Nights Like This” featuring Ty Dolla $ign and “Footsteps” featuring Musiq Soulchild.
Kehlani closed her show with “Lexii’s Outro.” The last song on her latest album, the track is an emotional tribute to her friend and late rapper Lexii Alijai, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 21.
“Her death at the beginning of the year is when I knew 2020 was going to be some bullshit,” Kehlani told the audience. “[Rapping] was her dream; I will do this [the outro] onstage every time I perform.”
Throughout Kehlani’s show, the audience of invited guests — including Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade — could be heard cheering from inside their respective vehicles, while others danced outside next to them or sat in the two chairs provided by Audi that were positioned next to each car. Guests opting to stand or sit outside their cars had to wear masks, either their own or those provided by Audi in a small bag that also contained a small bottle of hand sanitizer. Audi also gave attendees a picnic bag stuffed with light food snacks and non-alcoholic beverages.
Beyond guests having a good time, safety was a principal concern. During the DJ set preceding Kehlani’s performance, video screens on either side of the stage flashed this message: “For everyone’s safety, please wear a mask when outside of your Audi.” Guests also had to submit to a brief medical screening upon their arrival. In addition to their temperatures being checked, guests responded to questions related to travel outside the U.S. and exposure to anyone with COVID-19 in the past 14 days. A yes to those queries or a higher-than-normal temperature meant no admittance to the event.
As one attendee noted of the drive-in concert via text, “This is a great but I don’t want this to be our lives.” However, watching people dance happily around their cars as the DJ implored them to “get those hips moving after sitting on your sofas for four months,” there’s no denying that it was fun and refreshing to experience live music again.