Kelli Schaefer “Underground” on NPR

Kelli Schaefer is included in NPR Music’s list of “Most Essential Songs, Albums, Performances And Videos of 2017 (So Far)!

Kelli Schaefer is a local musician, so some of opbmusic’s staff had already seen her unveil songs from her album No Identity during a gig several months prior to this session. We thought we knew what to expect — but we weren’t prepared for this.

Schaefer, who’s known as a talented guitarist, surprisingly opted to front her band without an instrument. Seemingly freed from that burden, she held the stage with a subtle anxiety that added urgency and importance to virtually every word she sang. The centerpiece of the performance was this powerful version of “Underground.” Driven by a simple but infectious bass line, the song gives Schaefer room to sing — and can she ever sing. Through chopped-up verses and soaring choruses, she turned in one of the most impressive performances I’ve seen in years. —Jerad Walker, opbmusic