By Genoa Barrow | OBSERVER Senior Staff Writer
“Where will we go, When di quarantine ting done and everybody touch road?”
While the reggae singer Koffee didn’t perform her song “Lockdown” during last week’s concert at the Ace of Spades, the audience’s exuberance seemed to be a direct answer to her lyrics.
A breath of fresh air. Marijuana jokes aside, that’s what the show felt like. While individuals could still opt to wear face coverings, the concert was one of the first held locally without mandatory masking. Fans weren’t asked to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test either.
The show opened with a performance by Nigerian singer Ayra Starr. Starr offered up a medley from her 2021 self-titled debut album, including the chart-topping self-empowerment song, “Away.”
Koffee was the star of the show. Concertgoers were in good spirits, dancing freely and singing along with the 22-year-old’s most popular songs. The hour-long set could best be described as no frills, perhaps that’s a nod to the pandemic or the artist’s belief that less is more. When the music is good, all you really need is the performer and a mic. Koffee was joined on stage by a superb, all-Black band of musicians. She even showed off her own skills on the guitar, albeit briefly. Koffee sprinted on the music scene in 2017, playing the acoustic guitar as she sang “Legend,” a tribute to her countryman, Olympian Usain Bolt.
She hasn’t lost a beat. The local concert was part of her “Gifted” tour and featured strong performances of songs from her sophomore album of the same name. Fans vibed to selections that included “Where I’m From” “Loney,” and the That’s My Jam worthy singles “West Indies” and “Pull Up.”
Koffee, who’s off stage name is Mikayla Simpson, is a fairly new artist, but concertgoers sang the lyrics right along with her, as if they’ve been rocking with her for years. Koffee has been a refreshing addition to reggae. “Gifted” is a follow up to her widely successful 2019 album, “Rapture.” There’s a freedom to her music and while the Grammy-winner pays homage to those who have come before, she’s carving out her own lane.
The concert, presented by Live Nation, was held just weeks after six people were fatally shot along K street in downtown Sacramento as revelers left area bars following a Tyler the Creator concert at the Golden 1 Arena hours before. Perhaps it was a return to “normalcy” in that respect as well. A chance to show nefarious types that they can’t steal our vibe.