KiNG MALA Electrifies The Echoplex: A Night of Alt-Pop Anthems and Artist Collaborations Review+Photos: KiNG MALA at Echoplex 12/6/23
LOS ANGELES, CA- KiNG MALA, an emerging force in the alternative pop scene, has been captivating audiences with her unique blend of music and personal expression. Known offstage as Areli Castro, this El Paso-born artist is carving out a distinct niche in the music world. Her latest EP, “Spilt Milk,” released on November 10, 2023, is a labor of love and creativity, showcasing her evolution over two years of writing and experimenting. As she explained to KCRW, the project reflects a deep personal journey, gathering all the elements she cherishes into a single, cohesive work.
KiNG MALA ‘s music is characterized by its raw honesty and emotional depth. She’s not afraid to “spill her guts,” as it were, infusing her songs with authentic experiences and feelings. This boldness is a significant part of her appeal, resonating with listeners who find solace and inspiration in her words. Her approach to music aims to ignite confidence in her audience, encouraging them to embrace their own stories with the same candor.
I would highlight KiNG MALA’s unique position in the alt-pop landscape. Her fearless approach to songwriting and performance, combined with the deeply personal nature of her music, makes her an artist to watch. Fans and newcomers alike can expect an experience filled with emotional resonance and a sense of empowerment, making her live shows a must-see. With “Spilt Milk,” KiNG MALA invites listeners into her world, offering a blend of vulnerability and strength that is both rare and captivating in today’s music scene. The album is akin to embarking on a sonic odyssey where each track serves as a distinct chapter, rich in emotional texture and stylistic diversity. This album is a testament Areli’s artistic versatility and her fearless exploration of musical boundaries. This made attending her show exciting for me. It would be a chance to see whether, and how, music from an album that transcends genre conventions presents itself live.
In a well-booked prelude to KiNG MALA’s headlining act, the stage was graced by the captivating presence of Zoe Ko, a beacon of the New York City alt-pop realm. Her recent release, “Baby Teeth,” dropped on November 3, 2023, stands as a testament to her burgeoning artistry. Witnessing Zoe Ko live was an initiation into her world – a world where her EP isn’t just a collection of tracks but a poignant narrative woven with the threads of pop and rock. The EP delves into the complexities of modern youth, tackling themes like past trauma, bad habits, and insecurities with a raw honesty that’s as refreshing as it is relatable, especially to those navigating their twenties. It’s a heady mix of pop-punk angst and introspective lyricism.
Zoe Ko’s performance was an electrifying experience. She commandeered the stage with an aura that was both formidable and enchantingly raw. There’s something about her – perhaps it’s that quintessential New York edge or her fusion of heartfelt, emotive lyrics with rhythms that pulse with alt-pop vitality. These elements coalesce to echo the quintessence of youthful vitality and introspection. Zoe has an innate ability to forge a connection with her audience, making every song feel like a shared experience. Her energy isn’t just palpable; it’s transformative, leaving an indelible mark on the audience. For a first-time listener like me, her performance wasn’t just enjoyable; it was a revelation, a vivid showcase of an artist who I feel truly embodies the spirit of her city and her generation.
As the lights dimmed and the anticipation in the air thickened, the stage was set for next act to take the stage: bludnymph, a name swiftly becoming synonymous with innovation in the music world. This Canadian phenom, Kya Hansen by birth, stepped into the spotlight, her presence amplified by a pair of whimsical elven ears – a nod, perhaps, to her enigmatic and mythical persona. She’s not just an artist; she’s a living, breathing fusion of dark pop and rap, a genre-bending force of nature.
“FEAST,” bludnymph’s breakout hit, has been ricocheting through the soundwaves, garnering acclaim far and wide. From its feature in Netflix’s reboot of “Heartbreak High” to a Taco Bell ad, this track is a masterclass in lyrical ingenuity and vibrant energy, a true testament to her artistic prowess.
But bludnymph isn’t just a hit in the recording studio. Her social media game is a juggernaut in its own right. With over half a million TikTok disciples, she reigns over her “Nymph Cult” with a constant stream of musical offerings. 2023 has been her year – three EPs and collaborations that read like a who’s who of the music industry, including The Chainsmokers and Steve Aoki. The word ‘hustle’ might’ve been coined just for her.
Her live performance was beyond fun. Flanked by dancers who could’ve stepped right out of a gothic fantasy, and buoyed by the unwavering support of her family and friends in the crowd, bludnymph owned the stage. The performance teetered on the edge of overt sexuality – a bold choice in the immediate vicinity of her mother and brother – but hey, if anything, it speaks volumes about their support. Controversial? Maybe. Unforgettable? Absolutely. And let’s not skirt around the fact – the woman’s got some serious club bangers.
KiNG MALA’s concert at The Echoplex can only be described as an electrifying testament to the artist’s growing influence and the infectious energy of her music. The setlist was a masterful blend of her works, kicking off with an ‘Intro’ that set the stage for a night of immersive alt-pop anthems. As the concert progressed through songs like ‘gods on t.v.’, ‘martyr’, and ‘i only smoke to feel bad’, it was clear that KiNG MALA had crafted a journey for her audience, one that showcased her diverse range of musical talents.
The highlight of the night came with special appearances by UPSAHL for the performance of ‘sloppy’ and Em Beihold for ‘Golden Retriever boy’ (which Em Beihold co-wrote). These collaborations brought an added dimension to the show, emphasizing KiNG MALA’s ability to seamlessly blend her unique style with other artists. The performances were more than just duets; they were a seamless fusion of artistic energies that resonated deeply with the crowd.
Speaking of the crowd, the hometown audience at The Echoplex was a character in its own right. They were in tune with KiNG MALA’s every lyric, singing along with a passion that only comes from a deep connection with the artist’s work. This communal singing created an atmosphere of unity and excitement, making it clear that KiNG MALA ‘s music speaks to and for a generation of listeners.
The set progressed through other notable tracks like ‘dirty dishes’, ‘arms length’, and ‘cult leader’, each song bringing with it a new wave of enthusiasm from the crowd. By the time the concert reached its conclusion with ‘grocery store’ (which actually only a snippet), it was evident that KiNG MALA had not only delivered a memorable performance but had also solidified her place as a burgeoning icon in the alt-pop scene.
KiNG MALA ‘s performance at The Echoplex was more than just a concert; it was a celebration of art, collaboration, and community. With a setlist that showcased her range and depth as an artist, and with the crowd’s unwavering support, the show was a vivid illustration of the special bond between an artist and her fans. This concert was a clear indicator that KiNG MALA is not just a musician to watch, but an artist who has already captivated the hearts of many.