M83: Live Review

This past Tuesday I had the pleasure of seeing M83 perform live at the WaMu Theater. The show was as epic as one would expect, and my only complaints arose from the venue itself. 

M83 opened up their set with ambient synth drones until blasting head-first into “Reunion” as the first song of the set. While the mix did come off bass-heavy, due to the acoustics of WaMu, the reverb-drenched vocals floated excellently over the top. Anthony Gonzalez and his band transitioned instantly into a rendition of the first single from the new album, “Do It, Try It”. I’m not a huge fan of the recorded version of this song, but hearing it in a live setting did bring out the energy and excitement of the song in a way that was enjoyable to dance to.

image

Continuing on further into the set, M83 continued to mix old hits with new tracks as personal favorites such as “Steve McQueen” found their way into the mix. The concert stayed at relative high energy for a majority of the first half with most of the songs steadily growing until reaching a climax at the end. An excellent contrast to this was the performance of the song “Wait” which came about half way through the concert. The lights dimmed and only shimmering stars on the backdrop shown through while the beautifully simple acoustic guitar began to reach out and the whole crowd went silent. It seemed everyone in the crowd had their arm around at least one other person for the duration of the song. This ended up being the standout moment of the concert for me, as M83 showed the power music can have on bringing everyone together.

Following the journey of “Wait”, the music kicked back into gear as more synth explosions and energetic drums continued to move the crowd. An 8+ minute jam on the song “Couleurs” grooved non-stop while the classic “Midnight City” saw the crowd jumping uncontrollably as everyone sang along with the sax solo. After many new and old tracks, M83 ended their encore with “Lower Your Eyelids To Die With The Sun”. Another one of my personal favorites, the song almost seems to be a representation of M83 in its most basic and purest form.

image

As a band, M83 performed excellently. They were tight and together while bringing the energy to the stage. It would have been great to see the band taking more risks as the set list did feel incredibly well rehearsed to the point of it feeling cemented into only existing in one version. The sound did come off as being slightly unbalanced at some points, but as with any live performance, location of listening plays a huge factor into how one perceives the mix. On a visual note, the stage glowed vibrant of neon as lights danced around the theater and the songs took on a new life of their own. Masters of having a sound infinitely bigger than themselves and channeling the nostalgia of our youth, M83 create an experience with their live set and it’s one I would recommend to anyone.

Gabe

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

Show Review: Chance The Rapper Brings his Imagination to Life on his Magnificent Coloring World Tour

image

Monday night I had the privileged of experiencing Chance The Rapper’s uniquely brilliant Magnificent Coloring World Tour inside the cavernous WaMu Theater. Mountainous black curtains lined every inch of the venue instilling a rich sense of mystery. Despite the flowing crowds, I felt alone in the space-like complex. This feeling was short-lived as I was quickly surrounded by masses of colorful people pushing me towards the illustrious ‘front row’. Nevertheless, the vast darkness of WaMu’s towering walls created an alternate dimension isolating the stage and the crowd.

image

The show opened with Chance’s electrically awkward collaborator Francis Farewell Starlite of Francis and the Lights accomponied by Chance’s go-to producer, Nate Fox. The Oakland, CA native has been on the alt-pop radar since 2007 and recently dropped his debut studio album Farewell, Starlite! in late September. Francis possessed a very soft-spoken demeanor despite his musics’ jagged edge and funky synthesized melodies. He consistently addressed the well-being of the restless crowd and didn’t serve as much of a hype man until the end of his set. I reluctantly began to enjoy his shameless dancing and oddly groovy style due to his undefeated positive attitude. The man was having fun. It then dawned on me that the true purpose of Francis’ modest performance wasn’t to hype up a restless fans, but to set a peaceful precedent for an enjoyable evening.

After Francis left the stage the show encountered a brief 30-minute delay coupled with a preset playlist containing only Drake and Future. This pause disrupted the concert’s energy momentarily but any shadow of a doubt was obliterated with Chance’s immediate energy.

image

Excitement rushed through my veins as the Broadway-esque red curtain rose to reveal the wondrous stage set. Singing animatronics, colorful supersized crayons and Carlos the spirit guide/lion/mega puppet transformed the stage into an animated fantasy land. Chance opened the show performing classic hits off his breakout mixtapes 10 Day and Acid Rap including songs like; Cocao Butter Kisses, Brain Cells, Favorite Song, Long Time and Juice. Each song exploded with spirit backed by Social Experiment members Chi-town producer Peter Cottontale on the keyboard, Stix on the drums, and the incredible Donnie Trumpet toting his famed bugle. Brilliant multi-color lights and textural animations illuminated the once colorless auditorium adding to “Magical Coloring World” experience. After taking his fans on a trip down memory lane, Chance rerouted and began performing his latest masterpiece, Coloring Book, in its entirety. Carlos the Lion acted as Chance’s mentor, guiding him to push the message of the gospel-inspired album. Loving ourselves. The animatronic choir conveyed the setting of a southern-baptist church as Chance’s soulful-jazzy beats served as a perfect medium for his advocacy of God, peace and happiness. I even teared up as Chance spoke personally on the importance learning to love yourself and his current emotional struggles. For his finale Chance brought Francis back out to perform their song (and one of my favorites off Coloring Book) Summer Friends with an extended outro courtesy of the Social Experiment team leaving the crowd with a sense of musical wonderment. I was absolutely blown away by

the

part rap-musical part spiritual service the concert turned out to be. If you have yet to experience Chance the Rapper’s music you can find his latest project here. I have also provided links to his previous mixtapes and Soundcloud if you’re interested in exploring this innovative artist’s past work. Chance’s music certainly changed my life and it could change yours too. 

image

For fans of: Kanye West, Lupe Fiasco, Childish Gambino, Mick Jenkins.

10 Day

Acid Rap

Chance the Rapper’s: Soundcloud // Twitter // Instagram

Robert B

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

M83: Live at WaMu Theater Show Preview

The French synth-giants, M83, will be performing tonight at the WaMu theater. Creative master-mind, Anthony Gonzalez, released his 7th album as M83 entitled “Junk” earlier this year. The last time I saw M83 live was back in 2012 at Deck The Hall Ball. To this day it has still been one of my favorite live acts I’ve seen. While I didn’t enjoy M83′s newest release as much as its predecessor, “Hurry Up We’re Dreaming”, I have no doubt the songs will translate well into a live setting with a new source of energy instilled in them. WaMu Theater is also a big enough venue to support the phenomenal stage and light configuration that M83′s live act is known for. Check back in later this week to read my official review of tonight’s performance.

image

-Gabe

Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!

AJ Lehrman: The Real Story Behind the Pentatonix Opener

image

When my friend Lauren first approached me about doing an interview with Pentatonix’s opening act AJ Lehrman, I was slightly skeptical. First of all, I’ve never done an interview before, and second of all, I’ve never done an interview before. But I figured there is a first time for everything, and agreed to sit down with AJ before the sold out Pentatonix show at the WaMu Theatre. 

A few days before the interview, Lauren sat me down and gave me a little background information on AJ. She told me that he has performed all over the U.K., and is currently writing and producing his own album, while opening for the Pentatonix World Tour. During all of this I thought to myself: okay cool, this guy is probably in his late twenties and trying to make it in the big time before he gets too old. Imagine my shock when the next words out of Lauren’s mouth were, “oh yeah, by the way he’s 17.” Now, I don’t know if you remember what you were like at 17, but I was focused on boys, high school drama, and making the varsity soccer team, not performing live every night for hundreds of people.

So naturally, by this point, Lauren has caught my attention. Fast forward two days to before I met with AJ. I’m in too-tight shoes, I’m so nervous I’m sweating, and to top it off, my face is peeling from a bad sunburn I had gotten a few days before. I walked into AJ’s tour bus and immediately felt at ease. This 17-year-old has the kind of presence that can make anyone feel welcomed and comforted. He didn’t even mention my obviously peeling face!

Once we started talking I could tell that AJ was wise beyond his years. He credited his family and the people he surrounds himself with for keeping him grounded and true to his values. His musical influences ranged from Michael Jackson and Stevie Wonder to Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars. AJ specifically emphasized his respect for musicians that “write their music, and feel their music.” As a composer and musician myself, I really appreciate this take on music, as so many of today’s top names in the industry do not write their own music. Music, to them, is about the performance. This lack of songwriting leaves an audience with a lack of connection and understanding about the true message of the performance. AJ is unique in the fact that he is primarily a songwriter in the music industry, but is also able to be a true performer and connect well with his audience.

We were also able to discuss a few other things, including his wish for the music industry to return to its rightful place as a singer/songwriter dominant industry. He sighted that “the best songs of all time have been more about the songwriting and more about the musicality.” AJ spoke of his love for the way this new electronic, production based music sounds, but how it is not as organic and real as written music. This perspective was very refreshing to hear from such a young man in the music industry today.

AJ truly was the perfect first interviewee. His genuine sweetness and friendliness amazed me, and these characteristics truly shined through in his onstage performance. Directly after he got off stage, he immediately signed autographs and took tons of pictures with fans, hugging and thanking every single one of them for being there. If that isn’t a genuine performer, I don’t know what is! I was so throughly impressed and blown away by this young 17-year-old, and I cannot wait to follow AJ’s career all the way to the top! Make sure to look for AJ’s upcoming album, and check out his new single “Tongue” on Spotify, or YouTube and follow him on Twitter and Instagram @officialaj! 

image
Murph


Check out more music and news from Rainy Dawg Radio @ RainyDawg.org!