My brother and I are constantly trying to one-up each other when it comes to finding new music. Whether we are in the car together driving somewhere and fighting over who gets to pick the next song or just texting Spotify links back and forth, there’s always a million hits and a million misses that get shared between the two of us. We definitely don’t always agree and where I’m stuck in a haze of nostalgic pop-punk beats, he seems to have drifted off to a world of hip-hop and extreme metal (yeah, and my parents think I’m the weird one). I’ll never admit it but sometimes he plays something that just hits me in the perfect way. That’s how I found myself at the 7th Street Entry on Thursday night catching the one and only Shad.
Kicking off the two act show was Sean Anonymous. Sean is a staple in the local rap and hip-hop scene. He wasted no time and instantly let his quirky and sometime painfully awkward personality take over as he grabbed the microphone. I feel like whenever I see him perform he comes off as a bit nervous when he first starts. I’ve never understood this. He has been performing for years and always leaves the crowd smiling and genuinely happy. That being said, it’s kind of part of his charm. No matter how many stages he plays or stars he opens for, he’s still Sean… awkward and amazing.
Sean had his buddy and local legend Metasota working the spacebar on his laptop to help him with the beats. Metasota explained to the crowd that Sean called him around 5PM (the show started at 8PM) asking him if he wanted to rap a track or two. The answer was yes but then the question turned into, “So, if you’re going to do a couple of tracks, do you just want to work the laptop for me too?” The crowd laughed at the exchange because it was so real, so honest, and just so funny watching the two men explain how it all happened. Beyond the perfect banter that Sean seems to always have with his audiences, his music was on point last night. Being Valentine’s day, he decided to do six songs that all had to do with love (he kept saying five songs and seemed a bit shocked when he realized it was, in fact, six). Although not your classic love songs, you could feel the love that Sean has for his craft as he split his time between the stage and the floor in front of the modest crowd that had formed.
Between Sean’s light-hearted raps and Metasota’s command of the stage and audience, the Thursday night show was clearly off to a great start. At the end of Sean’s set, he invited Chaz Kangas, local radio show host and hip-hop aficionado, up on the stage for a little bit of a freestyle battle. The entire set could have been that battle and I would have been more than satisfied. I watched in awe as the three men came up with rhymes and lines in the blink of an eye. Now, I can’t tell you what the rap was about or if there was even a theme but I can tell you that the audience was engaged and the three men on stage had giant smiles on their faces. Completely organic and real, that freestyle was definitely a highlight of the night and I’m glad that’s how Sean ended his already amazing set.
After a quick set change, Shad and his band took the stage. With keys, a drum pad in lieu of a drum kit and Shad center stage, he wasted no time and kicked into a set that had the entire venue vibing along. The first time I heard Shad was in my little brother’s car as we drove to brunch together. I remember instantly being struck by the realness of the lyrics and the patience of Shad’s voice. I was hooked. Definitely a bit different and calmer than what I usually listen to, Shad has a style that is completely his own and his words truly spoke to me. Unfortunately my brother was feeling a bit under the weather so he couldn’t make it last night but I wasn’t going to let that stop me from taking in every single note of every single song.
Everything about Shad’s music and movements is deliberate. Every word had a place and was attacked with a sense of urgency without the panic. Every time he stalked the stage there was a reason for it and every time he raised his arms to the sky, there was a meaning. He wasn’t just joking around on stage (although his banter with the crowd between songs was on point), he was there to spread his music and his message and that’s exactly what he did. Being fairly new to jump on the Shad train, I can’t tell you what songs he played but I can tell you he mentioned a couple of times that he was playing a mix of both old and new. The magic of this was the fact that you really couldn’t tell unless you knew his discography. Every song was so original and so clearly his and that just goes to prove just how original this man is.
I could have stood there for hours on end just watching Shad and letting his passion hit me like a punch to the gut. I may have walked into last night’s show a bit blind being that all I knew was Shad had a song that hit me at the right time and place but I left with a giant smile on my face that I typically only sport after of a hell of a good show.
I’ll never admit but my little brother nailed it when he showed me Shad. I can’t thank him enough for that and I can’t thank Shad enough for exceeding all of my expectations.