Live Review

Nia Archives presents ‘Silence Is Loud’ to HERE at Outernet with celebratory swagger

18th April 2024

Her boundary-pushing, genre-hopping triumph of a debut album has just landed; this show feels like something of a victory lap for an artist whose star is about to go supernova.

Walk through the streets of Soho on any given day, and you’ll find hordes of tourists gathered beneath the mammoth screens of HERE at Outernet, craning their necks to take in whatever mesmerising visuals are on display. Come evening, though, and the full potential of the blank canvas space is realised: beneath a screen-clad tunnel of kaleidoscopic psychedelia, the cavernous venue is packed with suitably warmed-up ravers waiting shoulder-to-shoulder for Nia Archives - the self-appointed ‘emotional junglist’ - to assume her position behind the decks.

And the reasoning behind that particular nickname is apparent from the off; bouncing onstage with a tooth-gem bearing grin, a Union Jack proudly emblazoned across her chest, Nia radiates the sort of impassioned electricity that only comes from doing something that genuinely makes your heart sing. Turns out, that energy is catching. Backed by choppy visuals that put us in mind of ‘00s music videos - or those iconic silhouetted iTunes adverts - she spends the set’s first third proving just how good a party purveyor she is, collaging together Gwen Stefani (‘Hollaback Girl’), Florence + The Machine (‘You Got The Love’), and Yeah Yeah Yeahs (‘Heads Will Roll’, obvs).

It’s not until nearly 25 minutes in that she actually pivots to playing her own tracks, but such is the build up of anticipation that, when she eventually does drop into cuts from her hot-off-the-press debut LP ‘Silence Is Loud’, the reaction is like releasing the tension in a coiled spring. ‘Cards On The Table’ provides an early highlight, its airy Britpop influence brought to the fore when rendered live, while the soulful vocal bridge of ‘Crowded Roomz’ is met with a particularly heartening crowd sing along (not least because Nia tells us, smiling sheepishly, that her voice is going slightly).

Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London

Singing whilst playing any instrument is no mean feat, let alone doing so whilst mixing layered new-gen jungle and commanding a room entirely solo, but she does it all with such glee - even when she has to jog from front of stage back to the decks to oversee a transition - that you almost forget the sheer scale of that ask. And while select parts of the crowd were, to start with, a tad too keen to view proceedings through the lens of their IPhone 13, by the set’s end we’ve found a back-left pocket of joyous, impromptu dance circles surrendering themselves to the skittering DnB of ‘Forbidden Feelingz’.

Tonight, there’s no pretension from Nia Archives, no pains made to ‘play it cool’ - it’s just one woman revelling in the warmth of what she’s created, and celebrating that she gets to share it with this room.

Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London Nia Archives, HERE at Outernet, London

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