A dreamy haze descended on U Street Music Hall Thursday night when R&B trio KING took the stage in front of a packed crowd.
Anita Bias and Amber Strother stood on opposite ends of the stage, their vocals delicately intertwined. Paris Strother, Amber's twin sister, stood in the middle of the two as she intently tapped away at a keyboard, causing placid beats to float throughout the venue. Members of the crowd lightly swayed side-to-side and sang along in unison, as if cast under a spell.
And they might have been. Once you're able to deliver a strong enough performance to make even Stevie Wonder come backstage and ask to work with you, as he once said to KING, there must be something magical about your music.
Stevie Wonder "asked if we could work together, which is incredible and I'm still dying over that moment and looking forward to it happening," Paris Strother said in an interview with The Diamondback. "I heard from people in the VIP section that he was standing the whole time and dancing around. It was such an honor."
The group, which mostly played songs off its debut album We Are KING, started out its performance with "Mister Chameleon," a song about fair-weather lovers. Silky vocals enveloped the crowd in what can only be described as a warm blanket of sound. Throughout the night, every beat, every vocal riff and every ascension to falsetto felt carefree and joyously weightless, as if you were softly gliding on top of a cloud of cotton candy.
That sort of musical high is what has attracted a small, yet devoted fan base to KING since its first EP The Story in 2011.
"How many of you guys have been with us since 2011?" Paris shouted out mid-concert.
A good portion of the crowd, and nearly everyone crammed directly in front of the stage, excitedly raised their hands and yelled out.
The group, to appease those ardent fans, then transitioned to "Hey," a song off its 2011 EP that was also sampled by Kendrick Lamar on his track "Chapter Six." That song showed that KING's power lies not in its lyricism, but rather its sublime vocalization — just saying the word "hey," Amber and Anita spent around a minute tangling their voices in complex harmonies. It all felt extremely organic, and was easily the best moment of the night.
KING delivered the most calming concert I've ever attended. But it was never dull. The group was solely about the music and nothing more. There was no extra flamboyance just for theatrics. There was no team of dancers, no background projection or anything else that would distract from the reason we were all there — three talented musicians creating music that is unlike any of its contemporaries.
That originality, after all, is what Paris said inspired the group's moniker: It was a declaration of the group's sovereignty over its music and the unique direction the trio wishes to go in.
And for one night, KING truly reigned over U Street Music Hall in a way only Paris, Amber and Anita could.