Two of the most talented and sweetest musicians currently touring, internationally known YouTube sensation and singer songwriter Kina Grannis and opener Imaginary Friend (Jesse Epstein), gave a good name to acoustic pop music last month at Paradise Rock Club in Boston, MA. Complete with a crowd that, as Kina said herself, doubled in size since her last time she performed in Boston, Kina (and her ridiculously good cellist Keith) and Imaginary Friend put on a show that fans won’t soon forget.
Kicking off the night was the undeniably adorable acoustic folk pop solo act, Imaginary Friend. With the crowd already swooning before he even finished his first song, it became clear rather quickly that anyone who came to Paradise that night not knowing who he was, surely left as a new and enthusiastic fan of Imaginary Friend. After playing a brand new song that didn’t even have a title yet (which, of course, he introduced as “Untitled”) and one of his most popular songs, “Chasing Ghosts,” it was obvious why he was chosen to tour with Kina, with memorable melodies, thought-provoking and beautifully relatable lyrics, and a sweet and humble demeanor, all similar to Kina herself.
Soon after Imaginary Friend finished his set, Kina Grannis took the stage, accompanied by her cellist, Keith, and kicked off her own set without an introduction, while the crowd enthusiastically showed their love for the singer songwriter, screaming and singing along with every word Kina sang. One of the most memorable aspects of Kina’s show was her intimate interaction with the crowd throughout the entire night, whether it be while she was performing, such as when she invited the crowd to sing along with her, sans guitar, during her performance of “The One You Say Goodnight To” or when she had the Paradise crew turn on the house lights so she could see (and videotape) all of her fans’ faces. Kina proceeded to play a few more tunes, including the ever-relatable “Cambridge,” showcasing her genuine talent as a lyricist with lines such as, “I’m waiting for you to finally say, you are here, and here to stay. But, darling, if you know that it’s through, you can’t keep doing what you do. Is it time to let go of you?”
Following a few more of (very apparent) fan favorite songs, the eager crowd demanded a solo by cellist, Keith. Being a good sport, Keith, representing the lovely humility clearly possessed by everyone involved in Kina’s tour, played a short solo taken from, naturally, Imaginary Friend’s songs. Following Keith’s solo, which of course the crowd went absolutely nuts for as shown by the persistent chanting of Keith’s name, Kina played several more songs, including the dream-inspired tune, “Together,” and the extremely popular, “In Your Arms,” which, once again, had everyone in the audience singing along. Soon after, Keith exited the stage leaving just Kina, her guitar, and the spotlight. The crowd, which represented Kina’s diversity as an artist with audience members as young as toddlers and as elderly as those needing assistance to walk into the venue, continued to go even crazier for Kina as she played a new song entitled “This Far” and a cover, “Gangsta’s Paradise” by Coolio, that was lucky enough to get the famous Kina-treatment.
Keith came back on stage, much to the crowd’s delight who began chanting his name once again, as Kina told the crowd about “The Goldfish Song,” the song that she wrote about self-improvement, something she thinks about a lot, that her sister thought was simply about flushing a goldfish down the toilet. Kina then thanked the crowd, with one of the most heartfelt and genuine sentiments that has probably ever been said at a show at Paradise, played “Valentine,” and then unplugged her guitar after explaining that she was about to play what many people call the “Bum Bum Song.” Stepping to the very front of the stage, away from the microphone, in true Kina-style, she invited the audience to sing along to the song that she always imagined she would play with hundreds of people singing along to – and that, hundreds of people did.
Soon after, Kina exited the stage, only for about 45 seconds before the crowd demanded one of the most intense demands for an encore that we have ever seen at a show at Paradise, and quickly came back out. After telling a heart-wrenching story about her mother being diagnosed with blood cancer while she was in high school, she played one of the most beautiful and honest songs she played all night entitled “Make It Go.” With most of the crowd tearing up after she finished, she invited Keith and Imaginary Friend back on stage to finish the night out with a stunningly gorgeous folk-styled rendition of “Fix You” by Coldplay.
Overall, the night with Kina Grannis and Imaginary Friend at Paradise Rock Club is one that Kina fans all over New England won’t ever forget.