I saw Noname perform at The Crocodile this past Wednesday. Ravyn Lenae opened for her, and needless to say they were both incredible. I had been anticipating this concert for quite some time now (I ordered the tickets in November), and the night had finally arrived.
First things first, I had also bought meet and greet tickets for my lovely girlfriend in an effort to blow Valentine’s Day out of the water. For the most part I think it was a success. She was excited to meet Noname, as was I, of course. Unfortunately, we both had different reactions to talking to her in person. She was so nervous that her mind started racing, asking Noname-whose real name is Fatima-question after question. This was a godsend, because I was so nervous that my mind drew a blank and stood there sheepishly, only mustering the courage to introduce myself and say “yes” a few times.
After a photo op with Fatima, it was time for the concert. Unbeknownst to me, there was an act before Ravyn Lenae. Local Seattle rappers Nyles Davis and Mo Money got the show started, but not exactly as I had expected. Noname and Ravyn Lenae’s musical styles both exude peacefulness and don’t try to be in your face. Davis and Mo Money were both accurate reflections of what rap is becoming: repetitive lyrics over bass-heavy beats. Their music reminded me a lot of Lil Uzi Vert, my least favorite rapper in the game right now. Mo Money also got really sweaty and it was flying everywhere, so that didn’t help his set improve.
Finally, the time came for the actual concert to start, and Ravyn Lenae came out. And let me tell ya, her voice was jaw dropping. I knew it was good when I listened to her music on Spotify, but it was probably even better live. Each song she performed had multiple vocal inflections where she would change the note while she belted out a single word or sound. My previously hefty expectations had been exceeded somehow and I was witnessing an angel on stage.
Lenae also took the time to explain the meaning behind each song before she performed it. I had listened through her Moon Shoes EP multiple times, but had never taken the time to thoroughly listen to it and pull the meaning from each song. I found myself listening much more intently, trying to connect the lyrics to the explanation she had given just a few minutes earlier. Also, she put the mic in front of my girlfriend to sing a part of a song, but evidently the pressure was overwhelming and she could only sing for a split second before laughing it off. To be fair, I would’ve done the exact same thing, and Ravyn probably would’ve gotten the whole crowd to make fun of me because I can’t sing as well as her. That may have been why she did it in the first place.
Lenae’s set ended after about 45 minutes and it was time for the headliner, Noname. Her debut album Telefone was one of my favorite albums of last year. It was meaningful, perfectly produced, and it introduced me to a female rapper that I actually enjoyed (sorry not sorry Nicki Minaj and Iggy Azalea). Noname’s band was the first to come on stage, performing a few minutes of smooth instrumentals before Noname came out to open with “All I Need”. To my relief, she sounded exactly like she did on Telefone. The live band was a great addition; Davis, Mo Money, and Lenae all performed over recordings of the instrumentals to their songs (Davis actually rapped over recordings of his songs with the rap recorded too, so he didn’t have to work as hard). Noname performed Telefone in its entirety, as well as her verses for Mick Jenkins’ “Comfortable” and Chance the Rapper’s “Lost”. Ravyn Lenae joined her on stage and they performed “Forever” together, which was easily the best moment of the night. Noname’s discography still has some growing to do, because she ran out of music to perform after half an hour. Despite the short set, Noname was excellent on stage and had the audience captivated the whole time.
The concert as a whole was great. The surprise openers got the concert off on a sour note, but Ravyn Lenae and Noname more than made up for the openers’ slip-ups. Both either performed exactly as in their recordings or far beyond what I had expected. Once they expand their discography there will only be more demand for them to go on tour again, and I look forward to when that day comes. Check out each artist’s music below.
Oscar winner Juicy Jwrecked my soul at The Neptune Theater last night. Oh yeah, yes, it’s true, Juicy J and Leonardo DiCaprio have the same number of Oscars.
Project Pat brought out Nasty Mane and they performed some
booming bass music with predictable yet catchy lyrics.
Belly came out next. Never heard of him before. He does boast a bit of a belly though, which could point to the origins of his stage name. His
real name, according to the internet, is Ahmad. Further perusal of the internet
reveals that Belly was born in Palestine. Diversity! Yay!
Okay, that’s enough with the facts. Here’s more opinion:
Belly’s set was damn good. I now follow him on Spotify. His song with Travis
Scott bangs confirmed.
Then the stage was empty for a while. Anticipation hung in
the air thicker than the sweat—and there was a butt ton of sweat.
Juicy J is a distinguished dude with an enviable career—Three 6 Mafia
and an Oscar then a TGOD comeback with Bandz a Make Her Dance then a really
good album and now mixtape after mixtape of roof rattlers.
Anyways he stormed on stage, scarf draped over his head just like my mom wears a dupatta. Instantly I declared him my newest role
model. My list of role models was 29 pages long on Microsoft Word. Now it is 30.
I’ll be honest—I don’t know that many Juicy J songs. But
that didn’t stop me from leaping around like an electrified monkey. Bass on The
Neptune’s speakers exploded my brain into dripping mush—Beautiful. I still
haven’t recovered. At one point Juicy played a bunch of Three 6 Mafia numbers and
I knew the words so I screamed them and it was great.
Times like those, watching awestruck as an Oscar winner
screams down at you “YOU SAY NO TO DRUGS, JUICY J CAN’T,” you wonder what life
is really all about. Because maybe, just maybe, all you have to do is keep doing
your thing—whatever that thing may be—and you’ll eventually win.
Juicy J, legend, you inspire me to be the best possible me. Safe travels.
“Indie Folk” is the genre label often tossed on British band Daughter. But labels never do anything justice. Daughter’s music, to quote
someone I hardly know, is mildly terrifying and deeply liberating. Its
bleakness threatens to eat the world up, but it also radiates hope. Gun to my eye, I’d label Daughter’s music as Indie Emotional. Yup.
Halfway through their set last night, a fan in the
crowd said, loud but respectful, “Thanks for what you give us.”
The Neptune was sold out, and we all stood shoulder to
shoulder feeling emotional as Daughter blessed us. Back
to back heat. Their music is relatable in an embarrassing way. It exposes our
inner natures, our unspoken thoughts, our underlying values, and all the associated darkness.
The set list comprised a lot of songs from latest album “Not
to Disappear,” but made room for fan favorites. The opening chords of Youth, by and far Daughter’s most
popular song, met with an immense cheer. Masterpiece.
The light show kept pace with the music, flashing-exploding at
the violent parts and glowing at the low-key parts. Various shades of purple and
blue played a dominant role, and oddly embodied Daughter’s whole vibe pretty
Frontwoman Elena Tonra’s voice sounded just
as rich and beautiful in person. I know, impossible right? Throughout the show
I stood staring astounded. Emotion dripped like honey from every word. The
memory haunts me, but in a good way.
I started listening to Daughter at the emotional age of 15.
Yeah, it was totally hardcore. “The Wild Youth EP” soundtracked most of my adolescent
conundrums and setbacks and victories. I didn’t have a beard back then. Woah.
Well, here I am now, five years later, bearded, a couple
inches taller, and I love Daughter even more. I grew with their music. I grew
to their music. Seeing them live, wow. What a privilege. I went to high school
in a small town up on a secluded hill in South India. I never ever even dreamed
I’d see Daughter live. They were just another option on my iPod Touch.
They’re so much better live. The music, unbounded by a
recording, burst forth wild and triumphant. Yeah, triumphant. Plus, the guitars
resonate. Arena music in an intimate environment. Outer space guitars, man.
Outer space vocals, man. Outer space, man. Seeing them all up there, doing
their thing, perfectly on time with every element, holy cow.
Listening to Daughter on Spotify will never be the same—The
divine memory of their live sound will forever haunt and augment.
bassist Ian Farmer had a shit-eating grin that just couldn’t be wiped off his face during their
entire set at Neumos, and I think that sums up fairly well how the night went. A mix of good vibes and melancholy music made for a fantastic evening.
This is the first show I’ve been to in a long time where I was completely blown
away by the openers. The first band, Tiny
Moving Parts, kicked off the night with a bang, playing their blend of math
rock, emo, and post-hardcore. Their musicianship was phenomenal all around, but
drummer Billy Chevalier in particular had the crowd in awe. Jeff Rosenstock and his backing band
were next to take the stage. Their blend of old-school punk and new-school
pop-punk kept the energy rising, and they even threw an on-the-fly cover of Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” into their set. The final opener, PUP, killed it (they killed my ear
drums too; they’re seriously the loudest band I’ve ever seen). They had some
good banter with the crowd as well, making jokes at the expense of Portland and
its seemingly endless gauntlet of vegan food joints.
By the time Modern Baseball took the stage, they crowd was
pumped. They kicked off their set with their mid-tempo jam “The Weekend”, a song
about fucking around on the weekends with your closest friends, and it set the
mood perfectly for the rest of the evening. The crowd sang along to every word
of “Re-Done” (my personal favorite song in their discography), and two songs off
their new EP, “The Thrash Particle” and “Revenge of the Nameless Ranger”, sounded
The boys from Philly played all of the fan favorites off their most recent full-length album, 2014’s You’re
Gonna Miss It All, and closed out their set with an ass-kicking rendition
of their hit “Your Graduation”. The bassist and drummer from Jeff Rosenstock’s
band joined Modern Baseball for the tune so drummer Sean Huber could run around
the stage, crowd surf, and play frontman for a song. They returned for one
encore and played a cover of The Killers’
There was one moment in particular that stood out to me that
night. Near the end of Modern Baseball’s set, guitarist and vocalist Brendan
Lukens sincerely thanked the crowd for coming to the show and brought up the
topic of their recently cancelled shows. The band chose to cancel some tour dates
in England and Australia this past summer so Lukens could focus on taking steps toward improving
his mental health, as he has dealt with a lifelong struggle with anxiety and
depression. For a brief but beautiful moment, the crowd erupted in support of
Lukens. Even though the lyrics of Modern Baseball songs often aren’t the
happiest, the concert had a very positive vibe, and this small part of the show
made that positivity personal.
Catch Modern Baseball if they come to a city near you as they
make their way through Canada and the East Coast this winter. You can find a list of their upcoming tour dates here.