Kelsy Karter is bold and her fans are quite crazy about her boldness. Just a few months ago, the New Zealand native released a song, ‘Harry’, a love declaration to no less than Harry Styles, and posted a photo on her Instagram showing her right cheek with a freshly inked large tattoo of the One Direction man. The pic got national attention, every publication or news outlet wrote about Kelsy’s face tattoo while she couldn’t have been happier that her song would receive all this attention. She revealed a bit later this was a hoax of course, but the publicity stunt worked beyond expectation.
The young singer-songwriter was playing her first LA headlining show on Sunday night at the Moroccan Lounge, and as soon as she got on stage, the equally young crowd got on fire while screaming at the singer from start to finish. Kelsy actually was the fire in the room, as the pretty rocket sang her high-energy songs with a powerful voice while restlessly bouncing along. Her full band helped to keep the energy up for a devilish party and a series of sing-alongs shouted at the top the lungs by a mostly female crowd.
Is Kelsy Karter the new girl-empowering rising star? She stormed on stage with a guitar riff a bit reminiscent of ‘Pretty Woman’ during her first song, ’Talk’, and she showed us her mad skills at working a crowd. Sure, she could have done very little and she would have received about the same insane attention, as it was obvious that all these young women were rooting for her from the beginning: they were screaming their adoration, wearing shirts showing that fake cheek tattoo and desperately trying to reach her hands. She returned the affection a little later by kissing every girl on the front row on the cheek, a bold move I had rarely seen before.
‘Catch Me If You Can’ had this giant high-energy power pop chorus, a hard-hitting one she executed like a seductive tornado, and I almost got deaf during the first time she did ‘Harry’, since all the fans were shouting the lyrics behind my back with the conviction and the loudness of stadium crowd… This turned out to be only a tease — they were saving the song for later — and soon they were rocking hard with ‘Bad Candy’ and its head-banging guitar solos… she was effortlessly commanding the stage while being adorable, but after just a few songs, you had to wonder about this young woman who could own the room in a flash?
Kelsy was born in New Zealand but grew up in Australia, and she is now living in Los Angeles. She has already collaborated with Cage the Elephant, Alex Da Kid among others, and her brand of empowering pop brings in the mix a heavy dose of rock, soul and blues – she did a lovely rendition of Elvis’ ‘Can’t Help Falling in Love’, during a rare low-key moment, just in case you wanted another proof that Kelsy is not afraid of anything. Because of her powerful voice, she has already received comparisons to Amy Winehouse, although her tone seemed to be more pop-oriented and ready to convince an entire generation she could be their voice with a catchy soul anthem such as ‘God Knows I’ve Tried’.
‘Kelsy, Kelsy, Kelsy!’ was constantly screaming the intoxicated crowd, while the restless petite hurricane was spanning her greatest hits — I mean each song sounded like one, and most of them went viral on the internet: ‘Harry’, which was co-written with Anthony Rossomondo (who worked on the track “Shallow” from ”A Star Is Born”) and Tony Esterly (Sia, The Struts) has already been streamed more than a million times on Spotify.
‘What U’ had a sure Cage the Elephant’ pop conviction, while the band continued to rock the place with the unapologetic ‘I’m So Mad At Him’ adding one more ‘long hair boy’ on stage, as Addo Slack from the Struts joined them as a special guest for ‘Liquor Store on Mars’. Meanwhile, an all-fired up fan jumped on stage to sing with an uncontrollable swagger: ‘Harry/I’m gonna make you love me/You’re gonna make me breakfast/It’s a secret just between us/We can keep it low-key…’
Looking at the riotous crowd around me, I’d say it’s just a question of time before Kelsy Karter headlines her own arena show with her infectious pop-soul-rock anthems. On Sunday night, she looked unstoppable and her energy was incendiary, she was working in already conquered territory, but for the few of us who had never heard of her, she proved that a fake cheek tattoo had some real traction.
Catch Me If You Can
God Knows I’ve Tried
When I’m With You
Can’t Help Falling in Love
I’m So Mad At Him
Liquor Store on Mars
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