Brooklyn pop singer Tei Shi is on the come up like nobody else in her league. Earlier this year, Valerie Teicher dropped her second EP, Verde, doubling her sonic dynamic, upping her lyrical prowess, and giving us three addictive singles with "Bassically", "Go Slow", and "See Me". Between this and her debut EP Suadade, Teicher has enough material for her first sizable headlining tour, and last week, made her Seattle appearance with an impossibly good Barboza set. With her wonderful cross-section between EDM and experimental pop, Tei Shi could have easily manned a simple laptop setup and wowed everyone in the house. But armed with a full band and an abundance of excellent arrangements, Teicher made her first headliner set in Seattle one to remember.
The first thing you notice about Tei Shi's show is that it's quiet. As the intro synth for "Can't Be Sure" chugs into focus, her haunting vocal doesn't amount to much more than a whisper. But as the song builds, so does Teicher's presence. Almost no vocal doubling was used for the show, even in spots where, on the record, Valerie spirals her own voice into oblivion. Here, even when it strips the production down to something simpler than the record, Tei Shi is 100% organic. It's a facet of her live show that makes these songs even more intimate, which, given their original presentation, is quite a feat. That's not to say that Tei Shi doesn't double down on her dance numbers. Songs like "Adder(f)all" and "Go Slow" surge with bass presence and give enough boom clap to supply ample fuel to the grooving happening throughout the Barboza crowd. But the focus never fades from Teicher's impeccable vocals. They are quiet, they are intimate, and they are without flaw.
The live arrangements of Tei Shi's two EPs live up to all expectation. A four piece band adequately suffices to give live presence to every track without trying to recreate the record outright. Songs like "Nevermind The End" see more synths replaced by lush guitar, backing Teicher's voice wonderfully. Meanwhile, the barebones ballads like "Get It" are impossibly sparse, letting Teicher take all the credit for the emotional impact of every verse. It's an incredibly refreshing pop show in the fact that it never aims to distract with smoke and mirrors. Tei Shi is a pop star in the making, but as the presentation currently stands, we can appreciate her for exactly what she is: a fantastic songwriter and an incredibly talented live vocalist.
After going back and forth between her two EPs for forty minutes, Tei Shi closed out with the breakout single from Verde, "Bassically". Live, you really see why, up to this point, this track really does show off the best of what Teicher has to give us. The muffled opening drum churns as Teicher lays down a sultry verse, then from there, her band slowly fades into the foreground, filling out the sounds in between as Teicher's siren song goes higher and higher and higher into the clouds. By the end, the stage is as loud as it will be for the evening. Teicher belts out every spiraling line with pristine form, and the crowd dances along furiously. It's a completely perfect moment that, as Tei Shi continues to grow in talent and fame, will probably never happen again in this tiny basement. But for this small group of excited fans, it's a moment you can't put a price tag on: seeing pop gold show their absolute best in a space that leaves no room for mistakes. Tei Shi showed off the wonderful power and dynamic of Verde here tonight, and next time around, we're bound to see her upping the ante and continuing to climb the road to pop excellence.
Tei Shi's Verde is out now through Mom + Pop. See the rest of the photo set here.
Mean Jeans guitarist and vocalist Billy Jeans (Christian Blunda) took the stage for his second set of the night (he also performed in openers Patsy’s Rats). He was joined by Jeans Wilder (Andrew Bassett) on drums, and Jr. Jeans (Richard Messina) on bass. It was late, but the crowd at Chop Suey wasn…