Much like the resurgence in quality hip-hop we chronicled last week, R&B has also been exceptionally on point in recent history. Critics have coined the term “indie r&b” to describe a new wave of sexy songbirds that have tinkered with conventional R&B methods to create a unique brand of what I like to call “boner jams” (please let that term catch on). These artists have finally caught the attention of the mainstream media and are beginning to make huge waves in the music industry. Take a gander at the list below to see my take on the top 10 hottest live R&B acts that are seducing the world, one concert at a time.
The Top R&B Artists You Must See Live
1. Frank Ocean
Frank Ocean, the undisputed MVP of 2012, released his incredible debut (Channel Orange) and subsequently became one of the most buzzed-about live acts on the scene. Whether you like it or not, this Odd Future vocalist will have you leaving a show feeling all sorts of new feelings.
2. The Weeknd
After a trilogy of mysterious, yet critically-acclaimed mixtapes, The Weeknd finally revealed his true identity and began performing publicly in 2012. Best known for his emotional and atmospheric ballads, this Canadian’s live shows always leaves the audience in a dizzying haze. Disclaimer: I recommend you delete the number of that ex of yours before attending one of his shows.
Miguel also had a big 2012 following his sophomore release, Kaleidoscope Dream. Taking after the funky, and often psychedelic, stylings of the artist formerly known as “The Artist Formerly Known as Prince,” Miguel’s stage presence will have you both dancing and falling in love at the same time. It doesn’t hurt that he’s touring with Drake, either.
For the record, she is not Beyonce’s sister, she is Solange. Well, technically she is Beyonce’s sister, but rest-assured, this talented young songstress has certainly proved that she doesn’t belong in the shadows of her older sister. Solange’s live performances are a non-stop party and she’s also been known to cover some recent indie rock tracks by artists like The Dirty Projectors during her shows.
5. Jessie Ware
Adele, who? Britain’s newest R&B export had everyone talking following her collaboration with the electronic music visionary Sbtrkt, and the release of her 2012 debut album, Devotion. Blending elements of soul and UK dance music, Jessie Ware’s incomparable style makes for one outstanding live show (check out our review!). When she’s not blowing audiences away with her breathtaking vocals, she frequently interacts with the crowd showcasing her refreshingly affable personality.
6. Elle Varner
Elle Varner is a talented young artist who combines aspects of hip hop and soul with her razor sharp vocals. Her 2012 debut Perfectly Imperfect is about as close to perfect as she could’ve hoped for. Even the First Lady gave Elle props on her freshman release. Be sure to check out Elle live if you ever get the opportunity.
7. Jhene Aiko
After rising to prominence with her features on hip-hop cuts with artists like Schoolboy Q and Ab-Soul, Jhene Aiko is set to release her newest EP, Sail Out, in November 2013. She’s also earned extensive praise for her captivating live performances and natural stage presence.
8. Autre Ne Veut
Autre Ne Veut is a young singer that hails from New York City who released his debut album, Anxiety, in 2013 to overwhelmingly positive reviews. He uses his soulful falsetto to power his emotionally-charged live performances.
9. How to Dress Well
Much like The Weeknd, How to Dress Well gained attention through a handful of haunting releases that garnered much critical acclaim. On the stage, the artist also known as Tom Krell glides effortlessly through his seductive melodies, which makes for a truly mystifying experience.
10. Alice Smith
Alice Smith also had a big year following the release of her acclaimed sophomore effort She in early 2013. With roots in soul, rock, pop, and blues, an Alice Smith performance is sure to appeal to even the pickiest of music critics. This charismatic live performer also boasts a remarkable four-octave range and an infectious, energetic stage presence. You’d be a fool to miss out on an Alice Smith show.
Article by Trevor Ziegler