VÉRITÉ oozes New York City cool on stage just the way you’d imagine a hip electro-pop singer-songwriter would. At her recent performance at Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco, she stole the show with perfectly coiffed melodies, glittering synths and the cool-girl uniform to match: black lipstick, black leather jacket, sequined shorts and a fondness for the word “fuck.” She stepped on stage with the kind of sleek, laidback confidence deserving of a pop star on the rise.
The Brooklyn-based artist also known as Kelsey Byrne only has three EPs to her name, but she’s already selling out headlining tours — it’s no wonder she’s so quietly self-assured. Rickshaw Stop was the second-to-last date of VÉRITÉ’s Underdressed Tour, but it was still a big night for her: It was her first headlining show in San Francisco. And it couldn’t have gone any smoother.
The stage was accented by four tall, thin white lights standing behind the microphone — minimal yet dazzling, just like VÉRITÉ’s performance.
The singer electrified the crowd by opening with the upbeat “Echo” from her debut EP, delivering a hip-shaking hook that contrasted heavy drums and buzzing synths with delicate vocals. In “Echo,” as in many of her songs, VÉRITÉ has crafted a catchy pop song that still pays careful attention to detail, from wispy layered backing vocals to painstakingly placed production flourishes. The lyrics are bare and straightforward (“I can hear the echo / ringing in my head / in moments I remember / everything you said.”) The song is short — less than 3 minutes — and repeats the same melody throughout almost its entirety. Yet it’s still infectiously good. And on stage, the repetitive nature of the song felt just right for the tipsy, loose-limbed crowd to engage in with ease.
VÉRITÉ was just cool and confident enough to dance around and use the stage to its full potential, but she never crossed into goofy territory. She engaged with the audience at a slight distance. But while the singer-songwriter may be impeccably poised, she’s still humble. She admitted to being a little nervous about selling tickets to her first headlining show in San Francisco. “I’m just so happy people actually came to the show!” she told the crowd.
VÉRITÉ just released a new EP titled Living last month, and she wasn’t one to shy away from playing new material live. In her hour-long set, she played through all five songs on the EP. Singles “Constant Crush” and “Underdressed” were crowd favorites, but some of the others induced a less sing-along-heavy response from the audience. The first few verses of “Gesture” brought a welcome change of pace to the show, however. It gave VÉRITÉ a moment alone with the keyboard, displaying her reverb-soaked airy vocals to a hushed room before the beat kicked in. The crowd was mesmerized as simple, echoed melodies rolled off the singer’s tongue effortlessly.
“Fuck, you guys are cool,” grinned VÉRITÉ. “You’re like the ideal audience — rowdy as fuck when I need you to be and quiet when I need you to be.”
While the new songs allowed her to guide the crowd naturally between easy-going swaying and awed silence, the latter portion of VÉRITÉ’s set let the room take on a mind of its own. Things began to escalate with her cover of Childish Gambino’s “Sober” — a fresh take on the popular ballad with wavering synths, jingling percussion and higher, floatier vocals. It’s fair to say that everyone knew the words.
The singer rounded out the night with two of her most popular songs: “Strange Enough” and “Weekend,” both from her debut EP Echo. Rapidly, exclamations of “this is my favorite song!” rung around the room as Rickshaw Stop prepared to send off the cool girl from New York City with a warm San Francisco welcome.
“This is the biggest show of the whole tour,” proclaimed VÉRITÉ as she bid the crowd goodbye. “Thank you so fucking much.” Not bad for a first headlining show in the Bay Area.
Madeline Wells is the assistant arts & entertainment editor. Contact her at [email protected].