Emotional Oranges perform at 9:30 Club on March 7, 2023. (Photo by Dayja Johnson)
What’s the color of joy? Before last week, I may have said yellow. It took an Emotional Oranges concert to lean me in another direction. The LA-based R&B/pop duo comprised of Azad (A) and Vali (V) recently showed fans how orange feels during their performance at a sold-out 9:30 Club.
The concert took place on March 7, but for a moment, it felt more like Dec. 31. A digital countdown clock appeared on a large LCD wall at the back of the stage shortly after a strong performance by Chicago R&B singer Aáyanna. The counter gave off New Year’s Eve vibes, which was likely intentional. Eager fans were in store for festivities that would rival the most celebrated night of the year — 5, 4, 3, 2, 1!
A and V opened the show with their sophomore single, “Personal.” The dance track is a fun back-and-forth dialogue depicting new love dynamics. In the song, V is a lover invested in a three-month young relationship. Her partner isn’t taking things seriously, and she’s taking that personally.
The Emotional Oranges portray different aspects of dating in their music — hookups, temptation, cheating, and love. Their onstage chemistry brought their lyrics to life. They would mirror each other’s movements from across the stage. The choreography, undoubtedly the byproduct of countless rehearsals, came off naturally.
The duo is a true partnership — individuals contributing their strengths towards a common goal. On stage, the Emotional Oranges exuded confidence. A necessary ingredient in any successful relationship, whether platonic or romantic. They sang about how honesty builds trust during their performance of “Built That Way.”
The group’s unfiltered sincerity made a few in the audience blush and perhaps raised the eyebrows of 9:30 Club security. “If you want to feel sexy tonight, feel sexy. If you want to touch yourself, touch yourself…” said V before the performance of “Just Like You.”
Stream “Just Like You” by Emotional Oranges on YouTube:
The show was a party that Bacchus would not have missed. The Greek god, often depicted in an orange robe, was all about wine and good times. Juiced-up Emotional Oranges fans were in their bacchanalian bag during the performances of “Motion,” “Bonafide,” and “Petty.”
Mid-way through the show, Azad took a moment for gratitude. “Before this group, I was in a really dark place emotionally,” said A. He recounted when money was low, and he had to choose music or a more conventional career path. Everything changed in 2018 when Emotional Oranges dropped their debut single, “Motion.”
Serendipity brought A and V together. Val was dating one of Azad’s close friends when they met. The two connected on their love for music and respect for each other’s artistry. The rest is history. They have put out four albums in their short time together and performed at Coachella, Lollapalooza, and the Something in the Water Festival. The independent duo, who manage their business dealings, and maintain creative control of their sound and brand, appear poised for a bright and lucrative future.
Can money buy you happiness? According to the Oranges, hell, yes! They may be onto something. According to 2021 research from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, emotional well-being rises with income. If you’ve ever been broke, you know that being able to eat something other than grocery-store ramen can be blissful. A and V get it. “I said bounce/I need cash in large amounts…” sang the duo on “Bounce.”
V has a background in theater and dance, which shined throughout the show. The enthusiastic songstress taught fans a few new moves during the encore — slide to the right, then to the left, step front on the right for two counts, and switch to the left. It took a couple of iterations, but fans quickly caught on. The Emotional Oranges closed the show with “Slide All Night.” A few lucky audience members joined them on stage, executing V’s instructions to a T.
Other highlights from the show include performances of:
- “She Got A Man,” The Juice: Vol. III (2022)
- “Motion,” The Juice: Vol. I (2019)
- “All That,” The Juicebox (2021)
- “Make Me Wanna,” The Juice: Vol. III (2022)
- “Not Worth It” The Juice: Vol. II (2019)
- “Sundays,” The Juice: Vol. II (2019)
Here are a few photos from the Emotional Oranges performance at 9:30 Club on March 7, 2023. All photos are by Dayja Johnson.