New soul star at Holy Diver

NoMBe at Holy Diver last week.

NoMBe at Holy Diver last week.

Photo by Skye Cabrera

NoMBe is the epitome of performance and the feature of the latest installment of Billboard magazine’s “You Should know” series.

But if you experienced him at Sacramento’s Holy Diver on April 24, alongside Mansionair and Mikky Ekko, you already knew that, and you’re probably still in awe, recovering from an overwhelming enthusiasm for life, and wondering where you can catch this magician of a man perform next.

Of course he’s a musician, with intricate, emotionally charged lyrics, who effortlessly plays electric guitar as if possessed by the spirit of Jimi Hendrix, but his performance presence is what will have this generation of short attention spanners glued to the stage and not the screen. Enough to keep their iPhones on airplane mode and sail away with him on a cordless journey to only a time our ancestors experienced at Woodstock, or way back when they looked up to the moon for celestial navigation.

If you’re unfamiliar with this electric soul god, NoMBe, otherwise known as Noah Mcbeth, is the German-born, Los Angeles-based godson of Chaka Khan, with 100 million-plus online streams, who will probably be the most versatile musician I’ll hear this year. 

Behold the joy of live music. Backed by an all-women band onstage, the self proclaimed feminist is all punk rock in the way he jolts towards the mic, captivating in every move. Propelled by kinetic energy, he delivers island-tinged dance moves seemingly inspired by his mother’s Caribbean-Trinidadian roots. He sways, spins and catapults from one end of the stage to the other, utilizing every square foot. No surface goes untouched as he flows from soul and R&B to a “Pharrel Williams-endorsed,” Vandals-esque, head bopping “Catch me if you Can.”

“California Girls” has every 916-born woman in the room flattered and gawking while “Jump Right In” reminds us that music is the antidote with lyrics like: “I know you’ve been restless/ clingin’ onto stress/ but drown it in the bliss I bring.”

Perhaps the most personable and endearing moments were NoMBe’s tender ad libs before such songs as “Wait,” in which he invites us to recall our own lost loves, and shares a memory of his own, about a middle-school crush that he never had the courage to take a chance on. On the sensual track “Freak Like Me,” NoMBe entices us to delve into our sexuality and forget for a minute the lovers we left behind. All throughout the journey of a million stories, he is dancing in that groove, switching various instruments, in an effort to deliver to us the ultimate sound experience.

Crowd favorites “Sex” and “Drama” had the audience craving an encore, and afterwards, likely returning to their phones for his music for the ride back home. You won’t find much about this artist on Wikipedia just yet, and views of his videos won’t give the impression of what seeing him perform in the flesh will do for your life. Catch him if you can. But while you’re waiting for this epiphany, cop NoMBe’s debut album, dedicated to all the women past and present in his life who ever made an impact on him: They Might’ve Even Loved Me. Yes, we certainly do.