Ghostemane Brings Power, Energy, and Creativity To Sold Out Varsity


Like almost every other night, there were choices to be made last night. Did I stay at happy hour with my co-workers celebrating one of their last days with the company? Did I go check out this Ghostemane character that seems to have all of the youths excited? Did I go see Open Mike Eagle- a long time favorite of mine who has never let me down? Choices, choices, choices and they are never easy to make for me. 

The audience was small as I walked into The Varsity Theater which was a little surprising since it was a sold out show. It wasn’t long after I got a drink and met up with a friend and her husband that opener Horus The Astroneer took the stage to a rumble of applause. Horus The Astroneer’s set (along with all of the sets really) was ridiculously short lasting only twenty minutes but it definitely get the audience excited for the rest of the night. The rap/ rock crossover was alive and well throughout Horus’ set and really set the mood for the rest of the night musically.

Second up was honestly the only reason I made the decision to go to this show over the others. I haven’t be able to get enough of Harm’s Way. Their hardcore punk sound is perfection and their live show has always left me stunned. Although I felt that this tour was a strange choice for such a heavy and monumental hardcore band, I could barely contain my excitement as the group took the stage. The heaviness of their music seemed to catch some audience members off guard but it was clear that there were other people at the show who were there solely to see this great band. The pit took over majority of the general admission floor for the quick set and although I couldn’t see everything happening, I could see arms and legs flailing between heads. Sure, hoping on this tour was an interesting choice for this band but that didn’t stop fans from giving everything they had in the pit during Harm’s Way quick set.

Lil Tracy was up next and was clearly a favorite of audience. The modest crowd that had I walked into was definitely feeling more sold out when Lil Tracy took the stage and the cheers as he took the stage were deafening. Lil Tracy was born Jazz Ishmael Butler and hails from Virginia. The son of Ismael Butler of Digable Planets and Shabazz Palaces and Cheryl Clemons fro SWV, it’s really no surprise that this kid has made it to the big times. I mean, there is clearly something in his blood. Although he has famous parents and seemed to have been catapulted into the spotlight after his work with Lil Peep (RIP), Lil Tracy clearly has his own talent and his own way of commanding crowds that is absolutely stunning. Sure, his emo-rap style definitely isn’t for me but I can’t hate on the energy he brought to the stage and to the audience. Closing his set out with “Awful Things” (the song he did with Lil Peep) was definitely one of the highlights of the night. Although I could only sing along to a couple words here and there, the audience seemed to be having an emotional moment throughout the song which shined a while new light on Lil Tracy for me. 

Parv0 was the final opening act on this extensive tour although I’m not quite sure I would consider him an opener. It took me awhile to catch onto the fact that Parv0 is a DJ and even longer for me to realize that he is the DJ for Ghostemane (the headliner). Although I spent most of his quick set waiting for another rapper to come out, I loved the mix that Parv0 was spinning. From rap to rock with even a little Slipknot thrown in, Parv0’s set made me realize that this whole rap and hard rock/metal crossover thing really can work and, although I’m not quite sure I can call myself a fan of the genre, there’s no denying the creativity and genius it takes to pull the unique sound off. 

Headliner Ghostemane exploded out onto the stage and sent the audience into a tizzy of pushing, shoving, and headbanging. What I love about Ghostemane is that unique blend of genres that he has perfected. You can hear through his music that he is from the hardcore punk and almost metal scene of things and I love the way that he incorporates that sound with a very intense rap vibe. Although there were times throughout his nearly thirty song set that I really just couldn’t get into the music, I absolutely could get into his energy and that was enough to have me sold. Although I’ve never really paid much mind to this crossover genre, Ghostemane had me convinced that it was a genre that absolutely deserves my attention and whether I like it or not, the creativity and talent that goes into making music like this is undeniable.

I could have just stayed at the little local bar with my co-workers to celebrate my buddy’s last day. I could have gone to Open Mike Eagle’s show for a concert that was sure to impress and bring me a sense of comfort. Instead, I went to a show I knew very little about of a genre that I knew even less about. Choices were made and although I’m not sure I made the right decision, I definitely made the most interesting one. Sometimes stepping out of your comfort zone for a night is all you need.