Tag Archives: writing

The XX Prove Music Is Stronger than Hate

Concerts can be, and should be, much bigger than music. They can be momentous culminations of emotions, anticipation, freedom, and life. Lately, they have been covered in a shade of darkness following the horrific events in Las Vegas.

As a festival-goer myself, I still can’t look at some of the photos. I know I have to, I just can’t yet. That’s my hometown, and that’s my life. I have always said that festivals are my favorite thing in the world because it’s three days full of music, sunshine, friends, vice.

So the day after a mass shooting at an outdoor concert, I decided to attend an outdoor concert. The XX performed on October 3 at the Starlight Theatre in Kansas City, MO.

I think the band could feel the heaviness in the air, the palpable shift in tone, as I’ve always believed bands can do. They somehow have this sixth sense called crowd control- knowing how the crowd is receiving the music and can play to that. This night in specific, they played to a crowd of fans who had to view concerts under a new scope.

The XX played with extraordinary grace and substance. They first got attention with their dramatic, emotional mood music, drenched in passion and heavy feelings, like love, hope, loss, and devotion. As The XX glided their way through their silky smooth set, the songs flowed like honey- sweet and sticky. The crowd stuck on each syllable, each bass lick, each soaring guitar note.

The band’s new material “Say Something Loving” and “Dare” sounded like a depressive disco, and felt a little like a Joy Division song walked into a seedy dance club. “Fiction,” lead by bassist Oliver Sim was a highlight and instantly transported the crowd to the place they were when they first heard those lyrics, “Fiction, when we’re not together.”

The surprise hit of the night was the Jamie XX helmed “Loud Places,” which was featured on his exemplary album, Colours. The song is both extremely dancey and heart-wrenching. It tells the story of people who shared love at the club, now only to go to those same clubs alone, and how empty they feel without that person. This song resonated with the crowd on another level.

Finally, the performances of new classic, “On Hold” mixed with their biggest hit to date, “Angels,” from sophomore album, Coexist, allowed the crowd to truly melt away into pure bliss. It was truly during these songs that the air in the sky was alleviated of any heaviness and only the music remained.

Multiple times during the set, the band would thank the crowd profusely for coming to the show. They knew. They are perfectly aware that the crowd could have let the fear win and stayed home. I’m sure plenty of them did. But the ones who decided that fear cannot win, and that music is healing and transformative, they knew too that The XX were here for them. Romy Madley Croft the lead guitarist said that she felt homesick, but the Kansas City crowd fixed that, even if just for the time they were on stage. And the same can be said for me.

Goldlink Electrifies at a Fiery Show In Lawrence

goldlink-20

Goldlink touched down at The Granada Theatre last night to perform an electrifying show, sponsored by KJHK 90.7 and SUA.

Goldlink is almost too talented. Almost to the point of being unfair to everyone else. Not only can he rap faster than 98% of the rappers in the game, he can sing and perform like a true pro. His style and his vibe elevate him from the rest of the genre. All of these components came together during his extraordinary live show.

goldlink-24

Something that Goldlink is especially special at is his rapping ability. His toned down, mellow voice allows for his cadence to ride the beat so effortlessly. It’s like he’s running down directions of how to catch the E-Train so fast that you know you’ll get lost as soon as he finishes his sentence. His words form these parables and loops that are so infectious to listen to.

On songs like “Herside Story” he is able to dance over the melodic track and find flows I never imagined possible. He tells stories that are so relatable and his words are believable. On tracks like “Kokomoe Freestyle” he unleashes some of the fieriest bars on top of an absolute bruiser of a beat. This song is absolutely unreal, and could be any artist’s best song by a couple miles. When performing this song live, the crowd became unruly in the best possible way. Hands were flying in the air as every eye stayed on Goldlink, who delivered every word perfectly. The beat knocked hard like the next door neighbors when you play this song too loud.

It’s a testiment to how good Goldlink is that “Kokomoe Freestyle” is not his best song. That came at the end of his set. For his final song, Goldlink performed his biggest hit to date, “Crew,” a possible song-of-the-year choice. The melody on this song, the movie-esque sound, the chorus, which is catchy as hell, and Goldlink’s crushing verse played out on stage like an anthem. The crowd went absolutely ape for this song, rapping along to every word, singing the chorus like it’s a Weeknd song. They even knew every word of Shy Glizzy’s verse. Goldlink was so impressed that he performed the song twice in a row.

goldlink-41

During his performance in Lawrence, Goldlink played through most of his new album, At What Cost, as well as some older gems. It was a vibrant and electric show that ended far too soon. He could have performed for another hour and the crowd would have eaten every song up like a snack.

goldlink-30

Goldlink is a rare talent, one that will be revealed in time. He’s already gained recognition for “Crew,” but his star path is on a major ascension. This guy is talented enough to be the next big thing, so don’t wait. See him when he comes to your town.

—-

Find Goldlink’s Tour Dates here

 

Princess Nokia Graces Lawrence with Sensational Show

 

There is a superstar radiating energy on stage to a sea of screaming fans. She is electrifying, surprising, supreme. Her name is Princess Nokia and she’s a Puerto Rican rapper from New York City and she is the next big name in hip-hop.

The things that make Princess Nokia amazing were all on display last night during an electrifying show at The Granada, put on by KJHK 90.7 FM and SUA at KU. The Afro-Puerto Rican rapper and singer burst onstage with the energy that rivaled an entire football team blasting through a banner. She immediately tore into some of her most hard-hitting tracks, like “Tomboy,” “Kitana,” and “Brujas.”

The crowd, which was filled prominently with women of all ages and races, shouted along to each and every word. Nokia smiled and seemed to appreciate the love that was radiating back at her from the audience. In turn, she gave that love right back with every song she performed.

Right off the bat, Nokia made it clear that her shows are safe spaces for freedom of expression and spirit. Women and men of all genders and identities are welcome to turn up and feel confident in themselves, and if they didn’t, she would fix it. It’s an especially important aspect of concerts- to feel comfortable. With an impassioned speech outlining how the show would go, she raced into more bangers and crowdsurfed on her adoring fans on a giant inflatable piece of pizza.

Princess Nokia’s rapping ability is in the same vein as the elite of female rappers- Missy Elliot, Lil Kim, Ms. Lauryn Hill. Nokia is able to spit bars on top of these crazy, hard-hitting beats. She catches every word and delivers them with ferocity, like a true New York rapper.

The energy in the venue was on a different level than I’ve ever seen it before. People came to this show to dance, to get wild, and to feel empowered. There were dance circles all throughout the crowd, and the pit was a hot, crowded zone of die-hard fans with fire in their voices as they rapped along.

It was a special moment in Lawrence, last night. A true artist, on a rise to success that will be seen in astonishment a few years from now, touched down in this small town, and made her presence known. Princess Nokia is a unique, unparalleled artist, and to experience her live is the embodiment of all these features. Much like Chance the Rapper played a small venue in 2013 and is now performing on festival stages, the same will almost undoubtedly happen for this gem of a talent.


Check out Princess Nokia’s website

Follow her Twitter  and check out her album 1992 Deluxe on streaming platforms

 

 

Pinegrove Wows an Enthralled Crowd in Lawrence

IMG_9587

Pinegrove delivered their superb selection of indie-twee emo music for a crowded Bottleneck room last night in Lawrence. Their songs emoted emotional and relatable themes that resonated with the crowd resoundingly full with Kansas’s sadbois.

Pinegrove’s music is especially heartbreaking and rare because their keen ability to absolutely nail certain emotions on the head. Like the emotion of falling apart from friends and family, “I should call my parents when I think of them / I should tell my friends that I love them,” lead singer Evan Stephen Hall sings on “Old Friends.” Another is not truly grasping how or why someone crawled their way into your life, “How’d you get so caught up in my thinking / how’d you get so caught?” Hall belts out on show closer, “Angelina.”

These songs, permeating with emotion hit close to home to so many people. Every person in the venue resounded these lyrics back to the band with overwhelming unison. It’s like these songs are pages from the same book we’ve all read and reread over and over. They’re burned into our minds. From the first chord, we knew how deeply the song would pierce.

IMG_9571

The staggering thing about this music is the ability to capture feelings and moments, things so fleeting, into songs so catchy and impeccable. Small moments in songs like “If I did what I wanted then why do I feel so bad?” and “So look me in the eye and be practical” are moments many of us have felt at some point, so for a band to put it into words, it’s stunning.

Every song Pinegrove performed was met with a roar of crowd interaction. From deep cuts like “The Metronome” to fan-favorites like “Cadmium” and “Size of the Moon” rang out into the rafters of the tiny club like siren songs from lost sailors. Fans in the crowd jumped around, shouted, even moshed a bit to these songs, and it was all understood. Everyone experienced the songs in their own way because it was like therapy uniquely to them- each person trudging through the trauma differently, yet together.

Perhaps that is the most exquisite aspect of the show was the general respect and appreciation for the music being performed. Fans respected the music, the artists, and the fellow crowd members around them, and let feelings go felt. That’s something you won’t find at most concerts, where people are more concerned with their view, rather than rustling through their own hearts for some kind of cathartic therapy through music.

There are some concerts you go to with the intention of getting turnt, there are some you go to to discover something new, and there are some, like last night, you go to trying to find yourself and attempt to unravel your deeper feelings. That’s what Pinegrove was able to achieve last night in Lawrence.

IMG_9568

 

NBA Youngboy Triumphs Through Hardship at Granada Theater

 

Baton Rouge, Louisiana rapper YoungBoy Never Broke Again took to the Granada Theater stage in Lawrence, KS last night and blazed through a set full of rap bangers and street-driven hip-hop narratives.

NBA YoungBoy electrified the crowded venue full of fans with his fiery bars and infectious beats. His songs inflict a sense of urgency with the listener, while still resonating with the streets that raised him and remaining catchy. As he performed in front of a raucous crowd of fans, his words hit like haymakers on top of cantankerous, Southern-style, syrupy beats.

The NBA YoungBoy story is a fascinating, and unfortunately, all too familiar one. His life has been littered with violence and crime. In 9th grade, Kentrell Gaulden dropped out of school and took to a life of crime. Soon after, he was booked for robbery. He began gaining traction in the rap game with his debut mixtape, 38 Baby, but his ascension to fame also coincided with a new charge- this time for attempted first-degree murder. Gaulden eventually pleaded down to aggravated assault with a firearm, but did not avoid jail time. In turn, he found a chance to rehabilitate himself.

It was during his stint in jail that he truly came to light about his career and his long term goals. As soon as he was released, he unveiled “Untouchable,” one of his most triumphant songs about reinvention and resilience. The song traces back to the mistakes that he’s made, and the vow to not let these mistakes make you. “Gotta maintain, stay on my grind no I can’t be no fool / Naw I can’t slip nor I can’t fumble, gotta stick and move”

YoungBoy’s newest release, AI YoungBoy, reflects on the time he spent in jail, the progression of his life moving forward and his gritty life trying to stay alive on the Louisana streets. It’s an illuminating view on a young rapper, who is battling with his inner demons and the struggle to make it through this life unscathed by violence.

For how grisly YoungBoy’s life has been, his live show is a celebration of the man he is today and how far he’s come from the jail cell and the gutter. YoungBoy raps with a confidence unmatched for a 17-year-old. His voice, calm yet icy, is saturated with the pressure of a kid trapped under his circumstances. He bites down on syllables and spits out what he sees when he looks at his life, and that’s not always picturesque.

There are few rappers that can paint pictures like YoungBoy can, and his rap sheet validates every word that comes out his mouth. While other rappers stress the importance of cars and jewelry, YoungBoy preaches loyalty, durability and overcoming the crushing weight of life, especially that of a life with virtually no escape. For YoungBoy, that escape used to be crime, and that crime nearly claimed him. Now, he’s able to put those experiences, that pain, into vivid and bleak portraits of the life he’s lived.

For so many, rap is a just a genre, a playlist to put on to party. However, there are certain artists that are able to show that rap is more than that. It’s a way of life. It’s a gritty glimpse into the streets we don’t see for ourselves, and the statistics we read about on the news. If you really want to know what violence is, you can put on a YoungBoy song and feel it for yourself. This is an artist who doesn’t just make rap music, he makes life music.

 

Chicago I love you, you’re not bringing me down: 2017 Pitchfork Festival Review

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

This July 14-16 the Pitchfork Music Festival took place in Union Park in Chicago and featured performances from artists like LCD Soundsystem, A Tribe Called Quest, Solange, and more. Over these three days, Chicago showed me exactly what it is has to offer, which is great music, better people, and some of the finest pizza on the continent. So let’s dive in.

Continue reading Chicago I love you, you’re not bringing me down: 2017 Pitchfork Festival Review