Front Row

Elle Varner, Live In Concert

R&B singer-songwriter Elle Varner flew out of the gate in 2011 with a feel-good, boom-bap-heavy tune about a man who had managed to snag her attention away from a particularly nice pair of shoes. But three years already feels like an eternity ago, and on her newer material Varner sounds far from satisfied by either a sweet talker or some new kicks.

She took the stage with guns blazing, and a couple of songs into her set, she was more than willing to admit that she's been going through it lately; a public break-up, a stalled album release and a (freshly resolved) spat with fellow R&B singer K. Michelle have kept Varner's name in the headlines. "This past year, I've been through some s—-," she said, before launching into a stirring performance of "Little Do You Know," a song from her upcoming record, 4 Letter Word.

At Le Poisson Rouge, Varner gave us a handful of that album's songs and one from her previous — all fleshed out and Kodachromed by a live band — inviting the room into the depths of what it means to battle through lies, loss and love itself. Wielding a delicate rasp, and powerful delivery, she showed off the voice that's kept her standing through it all.

Set List

  • "Cold Case"
  • "Don't Wanna Dance"
  • "Nothing"
  • "Little Do You Know"
  • "F—- It all"
  • "Refill"


• Elle Varner, lead vocals, guitar

• David Drake, keyboard

• Aaron Monroe, drums

• Fellipe Prata, guitar

• Emanuel Washington, bass

• Ajanee Hambrick, background vocals

• Malik Spence, background vocals


Producers: Mito Habe-Evans, Otis Hart; Event Manager: Saidah Blount; Audio Engineers: Richie Clarke, Kevin Wait; Videographers: Rachel Counce, Colin Marshall, Susan Hale Thomas; Host: Frannie Kelley; Special Thanks: Squarespace, (Le) Poisson Rouge; Executive Producer: Anya Grundmann

[+] read more[-] less

More From R&B/Soul

Lizzo performs during NPR Music's 2017 SXSW Showcase at Stubb's. Adam Kissick for NPR hide caption

toggle caption Adam Kissick for NPR

SXSW Music Festival

Lizzo Was 'Good As Hell' At Our SXSW Showcase

The Texas-born, Minneapolis-based powerhouse Lizzo came with her "Big Girls" to Stubb's this year — and brought a surprising cover song along for the ride.

Gallant (center) collaborates with Korean musicians Tablo (left) and Eric Nam on the new song "Cave Me In." Courtesy of the artist hide caption

toggle caption Courtesy of the artist

All Songs TV

Gallant Goes Global In New Song, 'Cave Me In'

The fast-rising R&B singer meets Eric Nam and Tablo, themselves both stars in South Korea, on the nighttime streets of Hong Kong in this new video.

Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles perform live at the Woods Stage at Pickathon 2016. Bruce Ely/Courtesy of Pickathon hide caption

toggle caption Bruce Ely/Courtesy of Pickathon

All Songs TV

Cory Henry & The Funk Apostles, 'Why Don't Cha / Get Up' (Live)

The versatile organist, pianist and synth player, known for his work with Snarky Puppy, performs "Why Don't Cha / Get Up" live at the Woods Stage with his band.

Back To Top