This event is 21 and over.
$13.00 – General Admission (Advance)
$16.00 – General Admission (Door)
*plus applicable service fees
Purchase tickets online in advance for a first listen of King Dream’s new album!
Tickets available at The Independent box office (628 Divisadero, SF) with no service charge.
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Kendra McKinley wants to make you sing.
Her voice is prismatic: hold it up to the light one way and you get honeyed seduction; another, raw power; still another, a freshwater stream. If it sounds like the San Francisco singer-songwriter inhabits multiple musical identities, that’s because she does. She wouldn’t have it any other way.
“I’ve always loved the art of imitation, and for me, music has been the best way to nurture that,” says McKinley, whose ambitious full-length, 2016’s TREAT, draws inspiration from a diverse cast of characters — from St. Vincent to Brian Wilson, Kate Bush to Phil Spector, the Beatles to Black Sabbath. Forging a path through psychedelic rock, pop, jazz and folk, the singer and multi-instrumentalist marries a respect for tradition with a love of experimentation — like building sonic landscapes with only her voice and a looping pedal. She’s versatile, performing solo, with a string quartet, or fully electric with a six-piece band. Mostly, she follows her voice where it takes her, building structures around a vocal as a the lead instrument, and finding words to match the melodies in her head.
You will feel moved to sing along — even if your voice isn’t normally the loudest in the room. It’s no surprise to hear that the singer has found an extra spark of motivation the past couple years from working with children, in particular young women.
“I coach 14-year-olds on how to play their instruments, and I think about them when I’m onstage,” says McKinley, who mentors the high school rock band The Roaring Hearts when she’s not on the road. “I love being on stage because there’s a responsibility to be your most authentic self, to be honest about your emotions. When you embrace being a complex person, that gives the audience permission to be complex too.”
McKinley has always been a ham. Growing up in a family of artists in Aptos, a tiny coastal town just outside of Santa Cruz, California, McKinley studied theater and planned to be an actor — until an accident involving a broken ukulele led her to sing and play guitar in front of an audience for the first time (a Fleet Foxes tune, since you asked) at age 18.
“It was an ‘aha’ moment,” says McKinley, whose live show still incorporates her love of comedy and theatrics. She majored in classical guitar at UC Santa Cruz, befriended the musicians who would go on to organize the now-legendary Do It Ourselves festival, and never looked back. After self-producing a minimalist, Bossa Nova-tinged debut record, Chestnut Street, in 2012, McKinley landed a gig as a riverboat musician in Portugal, then traveled Europe with a guitar, collecting the sounds of places far from home. When she came up for air, she landed a sublet at her big brother AJ’s apartment in San Francisco’s Mission District, where the elder McKinley (Battlehooch) became her collaborator and her band’s guitarist — and the tight-knit music scene embraced McKinley with open arms.
Treat, released in June 2016 to critical acclaim, represents this period of growth with a set of complex but immediately-memorable powerful performances, all girded by an unshakable confidence. The daughter of an illustrator, McKinley also handmade a coloring book to go with the record. “I grew up drawing, I love to color while listening to music, and I wanted to provide that experience for my audience,” she explains.
Whether taken in live at The Fillmore (where she performed with the first all-female lineup in 2015), from a seat at the ballgame (her song “Fine As a Vine” is on rotation at Giants games at AT&T Park), or alone in one’s living room with colored pencils and a bottle of wine, McKinley’s songs transport listeners somewhere else entirely. Your best bet is to give in and let go — to be carried off by her stunning voice, her soulfulness, and her ability to be different characters with different stories, one after another, sometimes in a single song. Kendra McKinley wants to prove it to you. She wants to make you sing.
“Kendra McKinley is a rising star in San Francisco.” – Annie Bacon, SF Critic
“Her 1960s chamber-pop sound and strong, undulating vocals — which slightly resembles St. Vincent (Annie Clark) — will make you feel like ditching work to skip through a field of sunflowers with your new lover.” – Melissa Hellmann, The Bold Italic
“…McKinley is no throwback act – her sound may echo the past but she belongs firmly in the present.” – Nick Schneider, The Bay Bridged
King Dream is the new project from Bay Area songwriter and musician Jeremy Lyon. Inspired by Jim James, Blake Mills, and Jonathon Wilson, Lyon spent 5 years touring the country with Tumbleweed Wanderers, a band he co-founded in 2011, releasing a couple albums and a few EPs along the way. Since disbanding in 2016, he’s worked as a sideman in a slew of regional indie rock, psych/folk, and alt/pop acts including Whiskerman, M Lockwood Porter, and Lapel, while working on his debut self-titled album, due out summer of 2018.