When I first saw Nikka Costa on the Chris Rock Show in November of 2000, she was a complete unknown to me, even though she has been performing since she was a little kid. With a range that goes from Janis Joplin to Chaka Khan, her fusion of funk, R&B and rock makes Nikka Costa an artist to watch.
Kemp Mill Records / 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. 12/11/01
Sno-Core Icicle Ball – 9:30 Club, Washington, D.C. 3/23/02
It was double-duty for Nikka as she made an in-store appearance in the afternoon and performed later that night at the 9:30 Club in Washington, DC. College students and people on their lunch break packed into Kemp Mill Records for Nikka’s 12:30pm in-store. Bridging the gap between musical genres, her appearance attracted both the local urban station and the local alternative station. The 30 minute set included stripped down versions of “Like A Feather,” “So Have I For You,” and “Everybody Got Their Something.” The 5’2″(?) songstress wanted to get a good look at everyone who came to check her out, so she performed her first song while kneeling on a chair. She didn’t sound uncomfortable during the song, but quickly mentioned afterwards that her knees had never hurt so much. She later eased her pain by using a box to give her some more height. Even though Nikka and the band had to tone things down a bit because of the area they were confined to, they sounded extremely tight…and it was only the beginning of what was to come later that night.
Having performed since she was a little kid, it’s evident Nikka felt right at home on stage at the 9:30 Club. Throughout the entire show Nikka interacted with the crowd as if we were all sitting with her in her living room. It was a give and take relationship in the true meaning of the phrase. From throwing a guitar pick into the crowd to taking a CD of a fan’s band, it was hard to tell where the stage ended and the audience started. The show couldn’t have been more intimate. Everyone showed their love for her and she gave it right back, even if it was tough love at times. If there wasn’t enough audience participation she let us know and if there was too much she let us know. A couple of guys at the front of the stage weren’t clapping and Nikka quickly called them on it. On the flip side, bidding the crowd goodbye Nikka sang a soulful song a capella. The crowd felt her so much that some people started clapping along, but Nikka quickly put an end to that. She admitted that ordinarily she would never ask an audience not to clap, but she needed to be in a zone when singing the song and politely asked us to “shut the f*** up” for a bit, which brought laughter out of everyone. Everyone obliged, giving her the total silence she needed to do her thing.
The artist/audience line was so thin that a body-surfing band member was mistaken for an over zealous fan and almost manhandled by a security guard. Nikka had to make security aware that they were grabbing her bass player from the stage. Being quite the diplomat she understood how something like that could happen and thanked security for the job they were doing.
Not only was the show one of the most intimate I’ve ever seen, it was also one of the most energetic I’ve ever seen. Where she keeps so much energy bottled up is a mystery. Accentuated by her signature low riding jeans, she was dancing, gyrating, shaking, bumping and grinding her heart out the entire show (taking the occasional break to slow things down a bit with “Push And Pull” and “Corners Of Your Mind.”) The energy you see in the “Like A Feather” video is the energy you see on stage, and the amazing voice you hear on the CD is the same voice you hear on stage, making you realize how talented she is. Her stage presence is so great, you can’t help but watch in awe. And even when you were able to take your eyes off of her, the band didn’t allow your eyes to rest either. Watching the sax player is a show all in itself. Reminiscent of James Brown, Nikka “gave the band some,” letting each band member jam solo.
Even though it was my first time seeing Nikka in concert, I can’t help but feel that her shows are like snowflakes…no two are alike. Although the set list may stay the same, each night Nikka steps on stage you’re in for something new. To see photos from her Kemp Mill Records appearance as well as her 3/23/02 show in Washington, D.C. as part of the Sno Core Icicle Ball, visit the Photo Page.
Below are just a few pictures of Nikka Costa from various concerts, videos and TV appearances.
This IS NOT a complete discography. This only represents what I own.
- Till I Get To You
- Fooled Ya Baby
- I Gotta Know
- Around The World
- Swing It Around
- Funkier Than A Mosquita’s Tweeter
- On & On
- Happy In The Morning
- Hey Love
- Fatherless Child
Everybody Got Their Something (2001)
- Like A Feather
- So Have I For You
- Tug Of War
- Everybody Got Their Something
- Nikka What?
- Hope It Felt Good
- Some Kind of Beautiful
- Nikka Who?
- Just Because
- Push & Pull (also available on the Blow Soundtrack)
- Corners Of My Mind