LIVE: Kimberly Nichole Presents: Rise of the Underground at Le Poisson Rouge, NYC

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For most showcases, I like to do my prep work. I would diligently research every artist beforehand, listening to tracks on MySpace and Bandcamp pages, and getting a visual image of their performance before they hit the stage.

Not so for this showcase. I went in blind, and audio virgin if you will, and I’m all the better for it.

You might remember Kimberly Nichole from our 5 Year Anniversary Party out in Brooklyn. New Yorkers know her as an adamant performer, and her live show is better than anything I’ve seen on the East Coast in years.

So I was excited to see not just her, but the four artists that she selected for her Rise of the Underground at New York’s famed Le Poisson Rouge. Could they hold a candle to Kimberly’s performance? The jury was out.

The showcase began with a rather amazing introduction, complete with light show, fog emanating from the stage, and a spot on Circus Sideshow announcer. Obviously this was not a regular, standard, Thursday night show. Then Kimberly arises on stage, singing her trademark “Seven Nation Army” cover (now that The White Stripes have broken up, can we just make this her song?). I love how Nichole sets the bar high for the remaining talent. The theory here is to see if the remaining talent could match or exceed that level of talent–and they did.

First up was songstress Sophia Urista, who’s lovely afro and powerful voice caught my attention from the jump. Her rendition of the The Beatles song “Come Together,” was a spot on take on the classic, and her voluptuous catsuit made things all the more better.

Next up was Atlanta’s RAHBI, one of my favorite performers of the night. Let’s put it this way: if you come out on stage dressed as a pharoh you MUST kill it. You can’t be shy. And kill it he did. He is easily one of the most entertaining performer in R&B right now. I’ve never seen anything like this on stage. Ever.

After that was Jaiden, whose crooning tactics brought the energy level down a notch. Not saying that he was bad in any way however. The New York artist has worked with some major names such as Diddy and Alecia Keys, and that professionalism made its way on stage last Thursday.

Kimberly arrives on stage doing another spot on take of Michael Jackson’s Dirty Diana (aka the song where he took Prince lessons), introducing her backing band, who was on point all night and going though some songs from her debut, The Yellow Brick Journey. But the show was not over…

In fact in some ways it had only just begun.

Brooklyn’s Charles Perry took the stage and let’s just say it was game over from this point on. The Brooklyn singer evoked the soul revues of the past, putting on not just a show, but a spectacular event.

Now “evoking the soul revues of the past” may sound cliche, but Charle’s set was a show to itself. Flanked by 4 models, a bodyguard and more backup singers than legally allowed by the State of New York (I kid!). The show itself cannot be put into words, as Perry rocked the LPR stage like he was Prince at Madison Square Garden. For those who left, they missed out an an epic experience.

When people think of indie music, they think of struggling artists playing a weak stage in front of a handful of people. However, Kimberly Nichole does the underground a huge service, presenting these artists as if they were headlining a major label show. Forget what you’ve heard, this is how indie music should be. I look forward to more in the future.