Before Shay Lia mounted the platform to perform her full EP Dangerous, Jon Vinyl warmed up the crowd with his smooth vocals and song instrumentals.
The weather’s been exceedingly cold for this Montreal en Lumiere, but Vinyl managed to shelter the people from the storm through the smooth abilities of his voice. One of the tracks that he sang was “Addicted,” which spoke about a night locked in a love interest’s gaze. The Toronto-native also sang “Work” and first single “Nostalgia,” and by the time the stage was in the presence of Lia, the room had already been dancing.
Lia strode with certain gravity in her thin pumps and bell-bottom jeans, her hair poured over her cheeks like a misty waterfall. The room began to applaud as her striking beauty glistened from the darkness.
The crowd was already caught in Kaytranada’s song “Leave Me Alone,” in which she featured. The motion of her hips and oscillation of her voice pierced through the artificial fog and beams of colourful lighting on stage. The punchy rhythms of the production accompanied by the agency of her vocal range distracted from the storm already ensuing along the Ste-Catherine strip.
“Blue” was also a collaboration with Kaytranada that paints the world in the titular colour. The blue lighting loomed over Lia’s sole figure as she echoed to a missing lover, “A world of constant fear // I want to tell you everything I’ve been holding, for so long // Oh my love, I’ve been strong.” The sound of chimes and guitar riffs trickled throughout the dreamy state of the track, the crowd moving back and forth to the sadness of her tone.
Soon after, Lia gracefully placed her cat-winged sunglasses when she was about to sing “The Cycle.” “Don’t hit my line when you’re feeling lonely,” she sang in the hook until she cruelly remarked, “you got it bad.” She threw more shade at an ex with a flow of instrumentals that seethes a grim atmosphere and synthetic beat.
Like a pendulum, Lia controlled the movement of the crowd with her musical mastery through her whole set. She also surpasses the genre through her versatility and creativity as a performer.
The crowd danced along to what the singer had to offer, but Lia was probably not so far from the others in the room. Despite her remarkable talent as a singer-songwriter, she humbly introduced herself as someone who settled in Montreal to finish her university studies.
Lia is totally underrated and holds as much talent as American contemporaries like Alex Mali, Sabrina Claudio, or SZA. As an independent artist discovered later for releasing covers online, she was long-listed for the Polaris Music Prize right after Dangerous’ release last year.
She will be performing at Osheaga this summer and will weather Canada’s freezing climate until her upcoming spring show on April 3 in Ottawa. Luckily for her fans, she seems to be here to stay––for now.
Feature photo by Ian Alfonso