The first one to take the stage was Kid Fame. His Sonicbids account says, “Rap’s James Dean, clean cut with that “bad boy” image. His music is Fun, upbeat, intimate and energetic. The spectrum is infused with everything from Jazz to Electronic leaving no genre untouched.” They might be overselling it. Kid Fame falls in the stereotype that many white rappers face as a “Frat Rapper.” In the songs he preformed that night, he proudly boasted his marijuana usage, his sexual prowess, and his ability to party — music which blasts in the basements of fraternity houses nationwide.
Fame attempts to separate himself from Sammy Adams, early Mac Miller, and Asher Roth with a unique beat selection. The Watertown native takes a 2017 spin on the subgenre by utilizing trap-influenced instrumentals, but this choice reads less like a artistic choice and more as hopping on a recent rap trend. Kid Fame’s set revolved around these trap beats, fronted with shallow wordplay about drinking and smoking. The most interesting part of his set was when his DJ stepped up to sing a hook of one of his last songs, blowing the audience away with his amazing voice. If anything, the DJ should be the one performing.
The night recovered when Big Leano stepped on stage. Leano is another Boston-based rapper brought on to expose the crowd to the local selection of rappers. His style borrows from the drugged-out instrumentation of artists like Future or Lil Uzi Vert, but he doesn’t do much to set himself apart. The most interesting part of his music, especially for those at the Brighton Music Hall, is that he is from Boston. But the music is only half of his set.
Big Leano’s performance on stage was next level. He mostly played songs from his recent release Tales from the Mud. The bleak vibes that dominated the tracks on the tape translated very well to the live environment. Take the song “Lean for Sale,” which he used as his closer for the night. The original recording is understated, with the vocals leaning towards the mumble rap side of spectrum. On stage, however, the song is electrifying. The majority of fans in the audience stood unaware of his discography, so it was Big Leano’s job to excite the crowd — he sure did.
His set was a big change from the previous one. Kid Fame’s audience swayed a bit to the music, raising their hands only really when asked. Big Leano’s audience moved and jumped and yelled the lyrics to songs they didn’t know. Despite the sign on the wall reading “For everyone’s safety, no mosh pits or crowd surfing,” the concert was a full contact sport.
Towards the end of his set, Big Leano brought out Cousin Stizz on stage. Cousin Stizz is another Boston-area rapper, and is probably going to the be the next rapper in the area to make it big on the national level. When Stizz stepped on stage, much of the crowd, at least those right up next to the stage, recognized him instantly. Everyone was excited to see a group of quality Boston rappers (*cough* Kid Fame *cough*) support each other on stage. I understand Cousin Stizz returned the favor at his Boston Calling set on Sunday by bringing out Big Leano to the massive crowd. It’s always nice to see a community support itself.
FKi is an Atlanta production duo who have created tracks for stars as prolific as Iggy Azalea, Travis Scott, Mac Miller, and 2 Chains. Sauce Lord Rich was not present, so FKi 1ST took the stage as a solo DJ set. He did a pretty decent job. He played a mix of songs, ranging from Top 40 rap hits to songs he produced with his partner. The crowd’s vibe mellowed out for his set — after hearing XXXTENTACION’s “Look At Me” for the third time, no one was really feeling it. If you know much about me, I’m not a big fan of DJ sets, so FKi 1ST’s performance did not do much for me. I respect his work as a producer wholeheartedly, but I cannot say the same about his performance.
After FKi 1ST stepped off the stage, we sat in a strange limbo. The green room at the Brighton Music Hall is elevated above the main hall, with windows allowing the audience to peer backstage and try to take a peak at the performers.
After around thirty minutes, Maxo Kream stepped onto the stage, and the second the door opened a blaring instrumental filled the air and the bodies of the audience. Kream is a Houston-based performer who’s released two mixtapes with major acclaim: #Maxo187 and The Persona Tape. Both of these projects are filled with bars about gang-related crime and instrumentals inspired by Nextel chirps and Nokia burner phones.
If the audience was excited for Big Leano, we were bonkers for Maxo Kream. The pit spread to include almost everyone at the front of the venue. Maxo spread his hands to the audience before one of his songs, and, like Moses closing the Red Sea on the Egyptians, slammed them together again to create chaos for the audience. It was a blast. Maxo Kream left as quickly as he came, staying on stage for at most thirty minutes. He faced the crowd and said, “This is my time,” and went backstage. Even for such a short set, the show was definitely worth it. Factoring in the great performances from Big Leano and Cousin Stizz, the night was extremely fun. A large part of this comes from the liveliness of the crowd. I doubt the night would have been as successful if the audience was moving left and right in a stationary fashion. This crowd, however, was shaking the floor by jumping, mashing into eachother while moshing, yelling their voice hoarse to lyrics they learned that night. Everyone in attendance that night came with the intention to lose themselves to the instrumentals, and that they did.