The end of what was surely a lengthy line was still present in front of Skyway Theater as I made my way to the doors. The dreary weather Tuesday evening did nothing to dampen the spirits of concert goers as the small group still waiting to be screened and let in could be heard musing as I turned the corner just a few blocks up the street. As I made my way through the venue I ran into the second line that was substantially busier than the one I had used. As it turned out many people were still yet to be vetted and let in. The slow trickle of ecstatic youths into the venue would last most of the night. Or at least until it was just about time for the headliner, Rich Brian to hit the stage.
Miami’s own Don Krez took to the stage first and like any responsible hype man, he engaged the audience. And audience who had until that point been made to make do with whatever audio was bumbling through the venue. After introductions were out of the way Don made sure to ask the crowd if they were ready for August 08 and the man of the hour, Rich Brian himself. Though this would not be the last time he’s posed this question in his brief 30 minute DJ set, the response was the quietest. But believe you me, be it due to the arrival of more fans or perhaps simply increased anticipation, the crowd got louder and louder each time they were asked. Don Krez effortlessly cruised through the landscape of modern hip hop with silky mixes and shockingly subtle transitions. While the mark of a good DJ certainly is the mixing, it’s also important to know your audience and Don Krez did just that mixing in songs like Keith Apes ‘It G Ma” and even going so far as to close his set with the slow burner ‘Slow Dancing in The Dark.’ A track from Joji, Rich Brian’s label mate over at 88rising.
Not long after what had to be one of the quickest stage flips I’ve ever personally witnessed, August 08 made his way to the stage. His presence was immediate and larger than life and for a second I questioned who’s show I was really attending. His soulful falsetto crooned over the instrumentals and it was apparent he felt in his element on the stage. He made not of the fact that the weather outside was the coldest he’d ever personally experienced when someone in the crowd mentioned just how cold it really gets here. We settled on calling the weather this evening ‘warm cold’ and with that August dove into stronger, and even more emotionally pungent records. It’s clear that he writes from his own personal experiences be it heartbreak or the actions preceding it such as unfaithfulness or cheating as he put it.
Half way through his set August 08 introduced those in attendance to the man behind the ones and twos, his DJ Barney Bones. Turns out he’s much more than just a DJ and he proved as much as he dove into a song of his own. From this point forward Bones would pull double duty not only being a DJ but also helping as hype man and vocalist. A highlight from the set was for sure the a cappella rendition of ‘Midsummer Madness,’ a joint effort track between August 08, Rich Brian and Joji. August lead the crowd in a stripped back version of the track and at times the audience made it completely their own. A mix of old and brand new material made its way through the speakers and left the crowd satiated but ready to over indulge.
Rich Brian was electric on stage not holding still too often save the time he spent seated on the stage for one of the more narrative driven tracks. Brian took the time towards the back end of the set to talk to the youth in attendance. With him being only 20 years old now it felt a lot like peer to peer counseling. He mentioned the fact that just a couple years ago he was just another kid on the internet trying to learn English, listening to rap music and watching porn amount other things. He encouraged the crowd to peruse their dreams and follow in what they are passionate about because you never really know where it’ll lead. There was something so very genuine about his message. While this may seem a common thing for people to say something felt so much more real this time around. It could be due to the fact that Brian as such a fresh young talent had in fact just done the exact thing he was preaching. Followed his dreams. The biggest takeaway from tonight’s show for me was just that, that sometimes albeit with a little elbow grease, your dreams can become your reality.