Keira Wallace + Calla – Wine Cellar: July 6, 2024 (13th Floor Concert Review)

Keira Wallace celebrates the release of their new single, Leap/Landing, with their first North Island show fueled with a little help from their friends.

The young (17 year old) Ōtepoti singer and songwriter, already has quite a track record, having released a string of impressive singles over the last two years, along with contributions to several Play It Strange compilations.

There was a wintry bite in the air, but nothing these South Islanders weren’t used to.

CallaOpening the show was Calla, who performed solo, but at times sounded like a self-contained orchestra thanks to her electronic setup that enabled her to sample and mix beats, keyboards, violin and voice.

And what a voice. It can only be described as “operatic”, and, indeed, it turns out Calla Knudson is a trained opera singer. She won the Christchurch Dame Malvina Major Foundation South Island Arts Excellence Award  in 2022, putting the winnings toward her opera training.

Calla has two full-length albums to her name and her set began with Je Veux Vivre, from 2021’s My Body Of Water. The tune built up slowly, beginning with a low hum and ending, about 10 minutes later, with a dramatic flair.

The audience was stunned silent…something that happened several times during the 45 minute set.

Calla’s soprano voice is a thing of beauty and her violin playing add drama and “edge”.

Along with five of her own tunes, Calla performed Tom Waits’ All The World Is Green. After an overlong intro, the track finally took shape and by the end there was that stunned silence again, with one audience member gasping, “Oh, my God!”.

Quite the opening act.

It might have been a hard act to follow except that everyone was so obviously supportive of each other. Calla, along with Abigail Knudson, would return later to sing with the headliner, plus Keira’s mum was in the front row, taking photos, shooting videos and making sure her child remained hydrated.

Keira WallaceKeira, playing solo, with acoustic guitar, began their hour long set with an original tune titled, The Deer, which, they told us, is about childhood, something this 17 year old would have a vivid memory of.

But I must say, Keira’s voice, poise and performance is not what I’d expect from one so young.

And their taste in covers is impeccable, beginning with Jackson Browne’s These Days, which Keira has heard by way of Nico. There were also songs by Slowdive, Waveform, Indigo De Sousa, Adrianne Lenker and two from Phil Elverum (aka Mount Eerie) who Keira described as their “biggest inspiration”, recounting how they opened for him back in Dunedin.

Calla returned to sing and play her fiddle during Your Surface Settles and also set-closer, Leap/Landing, the single just released on Friday (see 13th Floor’s New Song Of The Day). Abigail Knudson, who produced the track, also added harmony vocals, with the three of them singing a reassuring, “You are held now”, to close out the set.

Keira Wallace

Yes, there was an encore…we weren’t going to let Keira off that easy…and it was the second Microphones (Phil Elverum) song, one titled Headless Horsman.

Despite the somewhat sparse crowd, one can’t help but feel that this was a triumphant evening for Keira Wallace and her friends. I have a feeling we’ll be hearing much more from them as time goes by.

Marty Duda

(thanks to Matthew Crawley for turning me on to the wonderful new artist)

Click on any image to view a photo gallery:

Keira Wallace:


Keira Wallace setlist:

  1. The Deer
  2. These Days (Jackson Browne cover)
  3. April
  4. Dagger (Slowdive cover)
  5. Mirage
  6. Hello Goodbye (Waveform cover)
  7. Your Surface Settles
  8. 17 (Indigo De Souza cover)
  9. Cradle
  10. From (Adrianne Lenker cover)
  11. In The Warm Smell Of Wood
  12. The Glow Pt.2 (The Microphones cover)
  13. Leap/Landing
  14. Headless Horseman (The Microphones cover)

Calla setlist:

  1. Je Veux Vivre
  2. Through The Eyes Of A Child (Aurora cover)
  3. Patterns Of Remedy
  4. Happy Ever After
  5. All The World Is Green (Tom Waits cover)
  6. Frame Of Reference