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Rachel Chinouriri - Preparing the Indie Renaissance, live at Koko

Reflecting on last week's events, we reminisce about an unforgettable experience: Attending Rachel Chinouriri's headline show at Koko on March 6th, 2024. Remarkable and memorable onstage presence is a trait often associated with the giants of Pop and Rock. Yet, Rachel's performance unequivocally proves that indie musicians, particularly more contemporary acts in the scene, deserve their shot in the spotlight.



As the headliner made her entrance, softly dancing behind a mesh curtain, the anticipation in the iconic London venue was palpable. The crowd cheered as the first beat dropped and the curtain fell, fully unveiling Rachel's captivating and majestic presence. Opening with the unreleased track ‘Garden of Eden,‘ she effortlessly transported her adoring fans into her unique universe.


Despite its unreleased status, the song resonated deeply with the audience, the angsty lyrics and alternative vibes solidifying Rachel's place in a genre that many tried to deny her access to, doubting she belonged in it solely based on her skin tone. ”No point in trying to prove yourself to them”, are words present in the first verse of the song that could surely be a coded metaphor for such. As a fellow black indie enthusiast who shares similar musical influences, I was immediately drawn in from the moment she graced the stage.



‘The Hills,‘ an anthem for outcasts searching for a sense of belonging, elicited a cathartic experience as the crowd united in singing along, forming an intimate connection within the walls of Koko. For the length of the song, fans could find comfort in knowing that everyone at the sold-out event sympathised with those feelings.


Rachel's ability to encapsulate relatable coming-of-age experiences further makes her endearing to the ‘Darlings‘, a name she lovingly attributes to her devoted fanbase. Tracks such as ‘Better Off Without, ‘ ‘Maybe I Am Lonely, ‘ and ‘Ribs‘ blend seamlessly, aiding in constructing a narrative that showcases her raw, vulnerable and unfiltered storytelling.



With the title track of her upcoming album, ‘A Devastating Turn of Events,‘ Rachel exhibited the maturity and charisma of a seasoned artist. Her delivery embodied the song's theme, a cautionary tale told with captivating confidence. In her signature Y2K Bratz aesthetic, the playful nature of the outfit mirrored the set design, creating an immersive experience, that transformed the stage into a sanctuary, as cosy and nurturing as one's home can be.


The setlist comprised a mix of well-known hits and yet-to-be-released gems from her debut album, and at no point did attendees let their enthusiasm dip, demonstrating the musician's ability to command a very diverse crowd.



In a defining moment, Rachel shared a heartfelt exchange with her fans and parents, who had travelled from Zimbabwe to witness their daughter's memorable evening. Amid declarations, the singer succumbs to tears and urges all present to ”...tell people you love them all the time,”. That prompted the crowd to pull out signs which included a promise, a project prepared by a fan named Kaitlin (who even tried to offer us one), once again demonstrating the profound bond between the artist and the audience.



As the evening drew to a close, Chinouriri concluded with fan favourites ‘Never Need Me‘ and ‘All I Ever Asked,‘ seamlessly transitioning between songs that serve as messages of self-love and empowerment. For the encore, she delivered ‘Pocket,‘ an unreleased track that felt like a love letter to her fans, sending everyone off with a sense of warmth and affection. Without a doubt, a concert to remember.


Rachel's debut album, ‘A Devastating Turn of Events,‘ is set for release on May 3rd, promising to further solidify her place as a rising star in the indie music scene.


 

WORDS & PHOTOS ANA PINTO

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