On February 24th, Christian Kuria, an up and coming R&B artist hailing from Vallejo, California, took the stage at the New Parish in Oakland as part of the annual Noise Pop Festival. This sold out show was opened by Malia, an R&B/soul artist and Dash George, a hip hop artist. I remember hearing fans recalling how much they enjoyed the openers. Many of them had never listened to these artists before, myself included, but wanted to hear more after their performances. The crowd was buzzing with dedicated fans that showed up with signs, flowers, and completely filled the bottom and top floors of the venue.
Kuria started his show with “Sunbleach” a laid-back, romantic song off of his new EP Suspension of Belief. Fans belted their hearts out to the lyrics and there wasn’t a single person in the venue that wasn’t dancing.
This show was extra special for Kuria. He told the crowd he used to regularly see shows at The New Parish since he grew up in Vallejo. He recalled how his friends always told him he would play here one day, and he was extremely grateful to the crowd for being able to make his dream come true. This was his first “proper” tour as he called it, and this show was the largest audience he had ever played for.
He then continued with “Tell Me When” and “Remain,” two groovy and laid back songs off of his 2020 album Borderline. Kuria danced around the stage, freestyled guitar riffs, and interacted with fans as he performed. The lighting of the show gave the room an atmosphere that matched the songs. The lights would flash yellow and red for more upbeat songs, and turn a cool blue and purple when things slowed down. Kuria continued on with a song he refers to as his signature “sad boy music” titled “So,” then brought back the energy with three of his most popular and upbeat tracks, “Losing You, ” “Toroka,” and “Too Good.” Kuria took a moment to recognize his incredibly talented band, who he said was made up of three of his best friends. He also gave them time during his songs to freestyle solos and show off their talent.
The concert ended with two relaxing and heartfelt tracks, “Deep Green,” and “23rd Street.” His haunting vocals, ambient guitar, and emotional lyrics had fans waving phone flashlights, completely immersed in the music. Fans cheered at the top of their lungs as Kuria gave his final bows.
This was the smallest concert I have ever been to, and I enjoyed the vibe and the atmosphere. The small venue along with Kuria’s stage presence made the concert feel as if you were jamming out with your good friends. Even New Parish staff and the bartenders could be seen bobbing their heads along to the music. Kuria mentioned many times how much this show meant to him and thanked fans for their gifts and energy.
Having been a fan of his music since 2020, it was exciting to see him gain recognition and be able to sell out venues. He is an artist that truly loves performing and creating. It can be seen in how he performs new renditions of his songs and radiates joy when he’s on stage. I was extremely grateful to be able to see him perform live, and I hope to do so again at an even larger venue.