Show Review: Noname and Ravyn Lenae Slay at The Crocodile

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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.

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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.

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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.

Noname – Telefone

Ravyn LenaeMoon Shoes EP

Nyles Davis

Mo Money

Archie O’Dell

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Juicy J Changes Lives Over Course of Emotional Night

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Oscar winner Juicy J wrecked 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!

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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.

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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.

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Show Preview: Destroyer at the Neptune – TONIGHT (10/16)

This Friday brings a recent discovery for me to the nearby Neptune Theater. Destroyer, fronted by Dan Bejar of the Canadian indie band The New Pornographers, will be bringing his unique voice to fill the rafters of the local theater. 

Poison Season is a showcase for a variety of lush instrumentals behind Bejar’s often imploring and questioning vocals. Ranging from golden trumpets to strings, sax, piano, flute, (yes, flute) and your standard guitar and bass, I am sure his live show will sound as beautiful live as they do on record, if not more so.

And while you’re at it, watch his amusing and oddly fitting stop-motion video for ‘Times Square’. It’s not what you would expect!

Opening will be Frog Eyes, with doors at 8 and the show starting at 9. Get your tickets here if you haven’t yet.

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DJ Holmes

Show Review: Shlohmo in Seattle

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I’ve
been a Shlohmo fan for years now,
so I bought tickets to his show as soon as he announced a tour. That was way back around
the start of the year.

I whiled away the months
leading to the show by revisiting his impressive discography. I’ve long
considered his Laid Out EP to be a
masterpiece.

In March, Shlohmo dropped his new album, Dark Red. The
album was a stunning departure from his previous releases. But it still had all
those classic Shlohmo elements, like menacing basslines and warped notes.
Definitely an album worth checking out.

Shlohmo’s electronic
music isn’t the dance-y kind. His music reminds me of dark basements and scary
nights and pain and zombie apocalypses. It’s pretty great. That’s why I was
surprised when I started dancing at the show. Everyone was dancing. It was
probably because Shlohmo’s basslines were even more immense on Neumos’s bumping sound system. Shout
out my ear drums for not exploding.

I love it when electronic
artists bring out a band. Shlohmo brought out a drummer and a guitarist and
also occasionally wielded a guitar himself.

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The light show was crazy
intense. The lights and the music complemented each other beautifully, surging
and receding in harmony. At times, shrouded by the spotlights, Shlohmo seemed angelic.

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He mostly played cuts off
his new album, but didn’t forget fan favorites like Places and Later. Later is my favorite Shlohmo song ever.
I cried sweet tears of joy when it came on. Well, maybe not. Nonetheless, I was
super happy.

About an hour into the
set, Shlohmo and the band just ran off the stage without warning. “Is that it?”
I wondered.

Hell no. The lights flared
up and Shlohmo ran back up on stage. He grabbed the microphone and reassured us,
“That was a joke. This is real life now!” He played us one last amazing song.
Then, unfortunately, it was over.

My one beef with the show
was that the two openers, Purple and
Nick Melons, had sets that lasted
about an hour each. That’s a bit long, as openers go. I was restless, standing
on sore feet waiting for Shlohmo to come out. But the openers were pretty tight
so it was cool I guess.

Definitely a night to
remember.  

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Pranav Shivanna

Show Review: Stromae in Seattle

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Stromae is a performer.

Stromae, formally known as Paul Van Haver is a Belgian singer I was first exposed to on a trip to France. After hours going through Stromae’s interviews and repeatedly watching his music videos, I loved him. Last week, I went to a concert at the Showbox that convinced me further that there is absolutely tight international music out in the world that Americans are not exposed to.

Stromae encompasses what I like to think of hidden treasure. Not everyone knows him, but a few do. As much as I love introducing him to people, I want him to be really popular for the sake of anyone who has never heard him before. His stage presence, his performance, his vocals, his interactions with the audience all kept me intrigued till the very end.

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If you’ve spent hours going through Stromae’s interviews and repeatedly watching his music videos, the concert was really familiar to you. His music videos must have been the inspiration for much of his show, and believe me, he put on a show.

Stromae is not just a singer; Stromae is a dancer and an actor. One second he is making jokes about how French fries aren’t even French, and the next he is literally throwing up on stage to add dramatic effect and compliment one of his song’s music videos. The crowd LOVED Stromae. Many spoke French and were yelling “Je’Taime STROMAEEEE!!!” which was the only French I understood out of the entire night!

Go see Stromae. Tell me that I’m right when I say he is an incredible performer and you want to hang out with him all the time.

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Ania Kamkar