As more and more actors, artists and musicians try to find a way back to their work amid the coronavirus shutdown, Kehlani performed at one of the first official drive-in concerts on Thursday night, taking over Malibu’s Calamigos Ranch in a partnership with Audi.
Audi Presents: Summer Drive-In Concert, which was held in appreciation of Los Angeles’ frontline and essential workers, was the first time the R&B artist performed songs from her album It Was Good Until It Wasn’t, which she released mid-shutdown on May 8.
“It’s really nice to socially distantly meet y’all,” she told the 100-person crowd, most watching the show from vehicles that had been provided for the concert. “There’s no more important work than what you guys are doing right now, no more necessary work, so thank you for risking your lives for us. I’m really appreciative and I know we’re all really appreciative.”
With a handful of A-listers, including Gabrielle Union and Dwyane Wade, in attendance, the show was also an experiment in live music and larger events in the coronavirus era, with masks required and cars spaced six feet apart. Fans were barred from getting right up to the stage as well, as Kehlani commented, “This is so different, usually I can touch people’s hands! I’m touching hands in spirit. I’m happy that we we were able to do this, this is new and a cool experience. I hope you guys are having a good night.”
Performing a dozen songs from her catalogue, she also joked that after her first song, “I’m out of breath because I haven’t sang in three months, I’ve been in the house.”
In what may become the new normal, upon arrival at the drive-in guests had their temperatures taken and were asked to fill out a questionnaire about recent COVID-19 symptoms or contact with anyone who has had COVID-19. Bags of hand sanitizer and Audi-branded masks were handed out to each attendee, along with a picnic basket of popcorn, pretzels, charcuterie, and beverages, including non-alcoholic mixed drinks Malibu Spritz and Agua Fresca. Blankets and folding chairs were also placed inside the cars for out-of-vehicle seating.
DJ Jasmine Solano performed on stage for two hours ahead of Kehlani’s set, also wearing a mask and asking the crowd to dance along because “I know you’ve been dancing in your living room for four months.”
The show adds to a growing drive-in trend in music and film, with Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks, Brad Paisley and The Chainsmokers also having played or announced drive-in shows. Dave Franco hosted a drive-in premiere of his directorial debut The Rental on June 19 in a first-of-its-kind event, and comedian Bert Kreischer mounted the first-ever Drive-In Comedy Tour, which kicked off June 24 with amenities including an app, Aloompa, that allows guests to place concession orders for vehicle delivery and to reserve restroom appointments.
Kehlani closed her performance with an ode to her friend Lexii Alijai, who died on January 1 of this year, and “that’s how I knew 2020 was going to be some bullshit,” she said. She then played a rap by Alijai, which also serves as the outro to her new album, and pledged she would “do this every day on every stage for the rest of my life.”