REVIEW: K.Flay shakes off the ‘Bad Vibes’ at intimate tour opener in San Francisco


K.Flay performs at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco on April 15, 2019. Photos: Mike Dewald.

SAN FRANCISCO — A sold-out crowd packed into the friendly confines of Bottom of the Hill to see K.Flay on an overcast Monday. It may have been the beginning of a long work week, the weather may not have been perfect, the Warriors may have been in the process of a historic collapse; but inside the sweaty rock club, nothing but good vibes flowed.

Kristine Flaherty may have been born in the Midwest but found a second home in the Bay Area. She began her music career she started attending Stanford University. At first she leaned toward hip-hop; then she began to blend that with electronica. But once K.Flay began incorporating rock into the equation, she began to soar. Her last album, 2017’s Every Where is Some Where, was nominated for two Grammys and her latest single, “Bad Vibes,” was also well-received. This San Francisco show was a little taste of what’s to come next fall.

Her set was short and sweet, at 45 minutes, and chock-full of new material performed live for the first time. It also included some fan favorites and a surprise cover or two along the way. On this short run of small club shows, K.Flay is also giving proceeds to local organizations, so they’re serving a second purpose.

K.Flay opened with a raucous version of “The Giver” before transitioning to the equally driving “FML.” She switched up the lyrics on the latter song’s final chorus to “I love my life” (as opposed to the more explicit alternative).

Her latest single “Bad Vibes,” proved to be more than just a song for the rapper-turned-singer, serving as a motto and a general life outlook. The new material is confident, positive, empowering and introspective with the lyrics ranging from sarcastic kiss-off anthems to a poignant ballad that looks into her relationships with her parents. The music is big, bold, danceable and worthy of cranking the speakers as high as they can go on warm summer afternoon.

The songs had a drive and a weight, while the electronic elements of songs felt more understated, giving way to a straight-ahead rock and roll vibe.

One of the night’s biggest surprises belonged to a medley of hits from Bay Area artists, including E-40’s “Tell Me When To Go” and Metallica’s “Enter Sandman.” The former featured an alt-rock arrangement along with K.Flay’s signature flow, while the latter stayed faithful to the original, down to the guitar solo. She followed with a stripped-down version of “High Enough,” which she joked would be performed high-school-dance-style. Throughout the show, K.Flay also played a handful of instruments from bass to guitar and electronic percussion pads.

She closed out with “Bad Vibes” and “Blood in the Cut,” two of the biggest, boldest and rowdiest songs of the night. As K.Flay left the stage, she promised the crowd a quick return to the area. Fans continued to chant her name long after she’d left the stage, a sign that her return can’t come soon enough.

Los Angeles’ Party Nails opened the concert with an impressive set of ’80s-influenced alt-pop with an almost pop-punk sensibility. The attention-grabbing set kicked off strong and only got better throughout as the singer quickly won over the audience with a dry wit, personable stage presence and bouncy and infectious songs full of smart lyricism.

Follow writer Mike DeWald at

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