James Blake and Khushi

The Riv // Chicago, IL // March 3, 2019

Who needs fancy props or glittery costumes? Khushi and James Blake let the music speak for itself.

James Blake is an artist who needs no introduction. He has collaborated with Travis Scott, Bon Iver, and, the queen herself, Beyoncé. Not to mention, he has released four solo albums, a handful of EPs, and has had several songs jump up the U.K. and U.S. charts. His newest album, Assume Form, sounds a bit different from his previous work, but in the best way possible. With artists like Andre 3000 and Moses Sumney appearing on the album, the tone feels more upbeat and playful, while still highlighting Blake’s near-perfect vocals. It’s no surprise that Blake’s show at The Riv sold out quickly. Dozens of people lined up hours before the doors opened to get a front row spot, while others headed up to the balcony to snag a seat and relax. The energy was radiating throughout the venue before anyone came onstage, and it was clear that this would be a memorable evening.

James Blake by Kate Scott

London artist Khushi (aka Kalim Patel) is currently touring with Blake and opened for him at their Chicago show. I’d never heard of Khushi before this, but I have no doubt it won’t be the last time I see his name on a marquee. Khushi and Blake became friends several years ago and have worked together on and off since. Khushi even worked on Assume Form with Blake. Khushi’s slow, purposeful style compliments Blake extraordinarily well. There’s nothing worse than an opener who doesn’t fit the vibe of the evening, but Khushi’s passionate vocals and profoundly personal lyrics were a perfect fit. His work is a blend of lo-fi and sonata-inspired piano, and the Chicago crowd was all ears. Khushi’s debut album is set to come out this spring, and if this show was any indication, it will be its own masterpiece.

Khushi by Kate Scott

It’s a bit surreal to see James Blake live. He came onstage quietly and said nothing to the thousands of screaming fans. Immediately, he sat at his keyboards and dove into “Assume Form”, the title track off his new album, and the room fell eerily silent. The song is a gradual build that gives off an anxious energy, as if Blake has to get the words out or he will never be whole. Hearing “Assume Form” on his album is one thing; listening to it in a photo pit 7 feet away is another thing entirely. When he played “Mile High”, a collective jaw drop could be seen throughout The Riv. Even without Travis Scott rapping his part, the song was mesmerizing. Blake’s music can’t be put into one category, but Assume Form has a more electronic edge than a lot of his earlier music. Regardless of whether he was playing a new song or one of his older tracks, Blake had the audience (myself included) enamored. Between Blake and Khushi, it was an evening of meaningful and important music.

James Blake by Kate Scott

James Blake and Khushi are on tour together until the end of March. For tour dates and tickets, click HERE.


James Blake