Last Thursday, UC San Diego’s Epstein Family Amphitheater held its first ever show: NIKI, supported by Paravi and Jacob Ray. The line to enter the 2650-seat venue spread into campus as students waited eagerly. Observers who failed to secure tickets stood on the balconies of the surrounding buildings in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the sold-out performance.
Jacob Ray opened the show with an acoustic set. Ray’s agreeable indie sound provided a pleasant atmosphere as the audience arrived. Next, fellow UC student Paravi provided direct support. Her set included a plethora of unreleased music, which she mischievously asked the audience to keep secret. Paravi’s music was impressively honest, discussing topics like body image issues and her experiences as a child of immigrants. She boasts a unique, rich voice that stayed consistently strong throughout her set.
Finally, NIKI took the stage, opening her set with the upbeat and angsty “Keeping Tabs.” Although her vocals were initially shaky, she soon settled into a confident groove. A dynamic, expressive performer, she filled the large stage with personality, and she excelled at interacting with the crowd, who clearly reveled in every moment. Even if I hadn’t known before I entered the venue that the show had sold out almost immediately, I would’ve figured it out before I left. The crowd was immediately devoted to her, with fans singing at the top of their lungs (even harmonizing during “The Apartment We Won’t Share”) and screaming “I love you” between songs. NIKI reciprocated the sentiment, thanking her fans and telling them, “It’s all because of you.”
Her vocals shined during “Backburner,” one of her most emotional songs, her voice soaring as she lamented, “After everything you put me through, I somehow still believe in you.” “Oceans & Engines,” which NIKI called the saddest song in her set, showcased the reason her songs resonate with so many: her heartbreakingly honest lyricism (“How is it now that somehow you’re a strangеr?”). But the standout of the night was the upbeat teenage anthem “High School In Jakarta.” The song was a defiant release of anger at an ex, resulting in a euphoric moment for everyone in attendance.
NIKI put on an excellent performance to headline a successful night for UCSD’s new performance venue. You can view the photos from the night here.
More information about ASCE and the Epstein Family Amphitheater: