On a windy Saturday night at Memorial Union Terrace, WUD Music, in collaboration with the Multicultural Student Center, brought Naia Izumi to the Madison stage.
Izumi spent the first song strumming while simultaneously trying to a hold his hat, which could have blown away any second. Right after that track, he set his hat down and let loose for the rest of the night.
If you’re asking yourself who Naia Izumi is, until Friday morning I had never heard the name either. Nonetheless, I decided to take a chance on a new musical venture and went to see his show this past weekend. For those of you who have never heard of Izumi, you will certainly want to look him up now.
Selected from over 5,000 video entries, Izumi is the 2018 Tiny Desk Contest Competition winner. His musical style is comprised of guitar skills most other artists have yet to prove themselves capable of. With fast fingers, Izumi combines fingerboard tapping and note bending to produce a sound unlike one I’ve heard before.
Not only will his unique guitar playing take you by surprise, his vocal range extending from low somber tones all the way up to high-pitched soul creates songs you can expect to know and love.
I’m not even sure what genre would best describe Izumi, if any — yet it is clear to me his talent cannot go unnoticed by anyone who hears him. Every friend I shared his Tiny Desk performance with was able to recognize his talent almost instantly.
With only two individuals, a drum set, guitar and vocals, one would expect the show to be rather calm and chill. Yet, Izumi’s performance, along with drummer Jessica Berdeaux, was one of the best I have had the opportunity to see all year.
The setlist viewed off of Izumi’s phone included Soft Spoken, the song which won him the competition. Originally titled, Soft Spoken Woman, the track reveals Izumi’s feelings at a different time in his life, when he identified as a woman.
Throughout the show, energy among the crowd elevated with each and every song. Most of the audience remained seated for the show, but some people decided to stand off to the sides of the stage.
By the end of the performance, the space was filled up with dancers, singers and groovers all sharing the experience of Izumi’s devine music. Next time he comes to Madison, you will not want to miss it.