It’s 34 degrees on a school night, and Kira Puru’s fans are showing their dedication. The place is packed, damp, and full of the positivity and energy of seeing a local artist during a breakout year. “It’s very sweaty up here, but I’m committed to this fucking jacket,” she says, during one typically chatty break. “This song’s about blowjobs on aeroplanes,” she says during another. Confident, funny and totally at ease on stage, Kira’s energy has everyone in the palm of her hand for the hour-long show. Her star is rising still, and everyone is very here for it.
Most of the set comes from her latest self-titled EP, a celebratory mix of soul, disco and pop; the latest step in what seems like an inevitable path to serious mainstream attention. The three-piece open with “Alone”, a good summary of Kira Puru’s ethos and appeal. Like a lot of good pop music, it’s sometimes fun and sultry, often empowering, but with moments of darkness peeking through the lyrics, ones which might (briefly) interrupt your dance moves. “We dance together, but we die alone” is a telling chorus to start the night. There’ll be dancing, but Kira might have some shit to get off.
And within a couple of songs, she is getting some shit off. There’s a lot of middle fingers to exes, at one point she swaps breakup stories with a fan, and there’s defiance in the face of sexism and bigotry. She shouts out her female opening acts, Ro and Sparrows, telling us “it’s piss easy to have a tour full of bad-ass women.” It’s all handled with passion, awareness and humour, helped by her natural stage presence and, by her own account, the free vodka.
The music is a cohesive string of party tracks, anchored by huge disco bass lines and Kira’s soaring voice. She won some fans with the last release, and all the new tracks are well received. The rich vocals of “Tension” and “Say Something” cut through as well as they do on record, and the heat is doing little to stop the dancing. By the end of the set, people are genuinely screaming for “Molotov”, Kira’s radio-friendly ode to cutting lose. It’s maybe her best song, sassy, simple and not self-serious, with a star-making chorus that instantly commits to memory. It’s the kind of jam the tight, bass-heavy venues are perfect for, and is enough to help you forget it’s midweek.
The rhythm section are flawlessly locked in, guided by a backing track of synthesizers and external instruments. It’s effective, and there’s no complaints from the crowd, but the next move is pretty clear. Get this woman a full band! Kira’s voice is classic, and seems fated to be accompanied by keys, horns and some backups. Someday soon, I hope.
The night ends with her semi-viral cover of Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”, conceived for Triple J’s Like A Version in August. The song is slightly slowed to match the evening’s more laid-back, funk inspired tempo, but Kira comes through with more energy and attitude than Perry ever had. The charisma and talent seep through everything tonight, and it’s a mix that makes Kira Puru a must watch artist.