My assignment for the night was to both photograph their sets and create a recap of the events, after the fact.
Ms. Styrke was first to the stage.
She stepped out under the veil of darkness in a fluorescent green mesh outfit. I would never usually notice what an artist was wearing but this mesh coverall-type outfit just drew your eye right to her. This was aided by the dark stage and the use of blacklights to make her artistic garb pop.
The first song of the night was “Borderline”, the title track off her eponymous 2014 EP. The reggae-infused beats flowed through the air, topped with the delicate but intriguing vocals of the singer.
Such a talented voice.
The venue wasn’t even a quarter full at this point, but most of those people in attendance gave the performer her undivided attention.
Tove seemed very comfortable at her station. She carried this sort of devious attitude, working between playful and sultry and even commanding. The songstress was able to convert her stage presence with the ebbing and flowing of the songs.
I peered around the venue to see a number of attendees out of their seats, clapping and rocking their hips with the beat. She was earning the house and rightly so.
Her set was quite short, as she was the first opener, but she took it by the horns and wrangled it to her will.
Post-set I heard a forty-something couple behind me talking about how lovely her voice was. I would have to agree with that.
Tove Styrke is a rising force in the North American market and you shouldn’t sit on her for too long. Surely in a few years, she will be playing arena tours of her own.
Styrke is of that newer ilk of Scandinavian musicians that is taking the world by storm.
Keep your eyes, and ears, out for her, she is the next big thing.
After a short break, it was time for the rappers El-p and Killer Mike, with their beat maker, Trackstar the DJ.
Walking up to the stage to photograph their set, our media liaison pulled back the curtain this side-stage curtain, revealing a pre-show Killer Mike.
He smiled as we walked by and then exclaimed to one of the photographers behind me, “Hey, make me look skinny!”, we all laughed and continued on.
Trackstar took to the tables and laid out the rhythmic backdrop.
Mike stepped first, with El-p on his six.
Their set was raucous and explosive.
I looked out across the venue and it was now about half full or so. Many RTJ fans stood up presenting the bands gun-to-fist hand sign.
Unlike the previous set, this duo was making full use of their stage allotment. Travelling back and forth while billows of stage smoke swirled around them, mics clutched in their bands and gazes of serious determination splayed across their faces.
The band was having fun with their performance, but they also made everything they communicated feel very important. Rightly so, because most of it truly is.
Their lyrics speak the worlds truths and sociological honesties.
The two rappers have such great interplay on stage. They took moments during a few songs to mime theatrical accoutrement to the lyrics. One specifically that looked like a stop and frisk.
I was drawn in by their music but I was captivated by their energy. They leave it all on the table when they perform and it is goddamn fantastic.
Very few bands make it to my never-miss-one-of-their-shows list but Run The Jewels have cemented themselves on that index.
I walked away from the evening smiling.
Both acts were just wonderful.
Thank you to the musicians for such a great night out. Come back soon, we miss you already.