Kina Grannis is not wearing shoes. As soon as the singer-songwriter approaches the stage in the House of Blues Cambridge Room, she removes her black ballet flats and places her set list at the base of her microphone. Comfortable in her skin, she makes her fans feel like they are attending a concert in their own living room. “Oh my gosh, this is ridiculous,” excited fans clamor at their proximity to the stage while others yell out, “I love you. I love you more!” in contest like jewelry collectors bidding on rare pieces of amethyst. Kina walks onstage to mad applause, camera flashes, and fans holding self-professed ‘Kinerd’ posters. “I love your faces,” she excitedly exhales and prepares for tonight’s set.
She opens with World In Front of Me from her latest album, Stairwells. Her voice, strong and soulful, reverberates through the sound system, and I continuously catch myself singing along. The room is so intent on listening to her that I can hear camera shutters open and close with each snapshot taken in the room. “This is a song I wrote in Costa Rica about a friend I met in New Zealand from Canada,” the crowd laughed with her as she continued, “and it’s about a little place in England coincidentally called Cambridge, so very fitting for tonight.” Kina’s acoustic music is truthful and endearing, and she has her audience captivated. “Sometimes I get so caught up I forget to take pictures,” my friend says to me, and I can relate: the notebook in my hand periodically rests when she plays my favorites. “I really, really enjoy you tonight” she confesses to the room, and smiles as the audience sings her words back to her.
Kina radiates happiness, contentedness, and light. The girl is California cool. “So this next one is a cover,” she starts, “we go way back to like fifth grade or so, so just make sure you’re picturing fifth grade Kina when I’m singing this. Maybe it will make a little more sense. Or a lot less. We’ll see.” The singer-songwriter’s laid-back demeanor is pushed aside when she busts out a cover of Coolio’s 1995 Gangsta’s Paradise. “It’s crazy how gangster I am sometimes,” she laughs.
“I’d like to thank the House of Blues for having me tonight,” she appreciatively thanks the host venue before playing Message from your Heart. “I will need your help on this song and I know that you’ll be good because I’ve already heard you sing,” she encourages the audience to hum along. At the song’s close, she placed her ballet flats on and attempted to leave, but didn’t even make it out the door before overwhelming applause carried her back to the stage. “This song was inspired by a dream I had,” she revealed, before singing Together as her choice encore song. After wrapping the show with Stars Falling Down, she packed up her Taylor guitar, and headed to meet and greet excited fans. As she formed her hands into a heart above her head, she affirmed, “thank you so much, you guys are the best!” Speaking as a fellow ‘Kinerd’, the feeling is mutual.
Photography by Emili Carmichael
Laura Stillo is the Arts & Entertainment Writer and Creative Social Media Producer for YouPlusDallas. Follow her on Twitter at @laurastillo.