Last week in our Local Beat column, I told you about the singer-songwriter competition going on in Lawrenceville for the past couple of months. Last night was the finals, and here are the results:
First place went to Louisville, Ky.-based Zach Austin Longoria. New Kensington's Jay Stenger took second place, and third place went to Jordan Auth of the North Side.
Congrats to the winners!
In a gathering that united some of Pittsburgh’s fashion icons and trendsetters, Style & Steel hosted their first ‘Superwomen In Heels’ Style Awards. Thursday evening at the Pittsburgh Winery in the Strip District, men and women dressed their best for the ceremony that celebrated women working in a variety of areas in the style and fashion business. Style Award categories included Designer of the Year, Make-Up Artist of the Year, Model of the Year, and Stylist of the Year, among others.
“It’s not often that women get together and celebrate one another,” says Style & Steel founder Wadria Taylor. “I feel great seeing the women feel good about themselves.”
Lakisha Pattin has been a freelance stylist for about seven years. She also does make-up and runs her own company, Focused Fashion Consulting, LLC. At the ‘Superwomen In Heels’ Style Awards, she received the award for Stylist of the Year.
“It feels good to be appreciated for your hard work,” Pattin says. “This is something that’s very exciting, and it really helps to jump-start more fashion works in Pittsburgh by bringing different arts together, from make-up’s and hair, to styling, to photography.”
21-year-old Makayla Wray was an arts feature and City Paper cover-girl in the month of July. Honored with the Style & Steel award for Young Stylista On the Rise, she agrees with Pattin on the potential network and creative opportunities that can develop from the initiative Style & Steel is presenting.
“It’s kind of like a sorority of women who are doing something in Pittsburgh,” says Wray. “You know, Beyonce used all women in her concert sets — guitarists, drummer, her background dancers were all women. That’s amazing, women really have to stand together and be strong. I think we’re here to better each other.”
Thursday’s Style Awards is part of Style & Steel’s first Style Week. On Wednesday, the company founded by Wadria Taylor held their launch event which welcomed a local celebrities, fashionistas, and socialites. Continuing into the weekend, Style & Steel will be presenting a fashion show, boutique crawl, and concluding Sunday with a beauty boot camp in collaboration with CitySTYLE.
List of Style Awards Honorees:
Style Icon of the Year: Debbie Norrell
Superwoman of the Year: Demeatria Boccella
Model of the Year: Ernesta Pollard
Make-Up Artist of the Year: Patty Bell
Designer of the Year: Lana Neumeyer
Stylist of the Year: Lakisha Pattin
Most Stylish Host: Vanessa Doss
Most Stylish Artist: Vanessa German
Young Stylista on the Rise: Makayla Wray
Fashion Photographer of the Year: Mary Beth Kratsas
According to a press release from Style & Steel, a Style Committee comprising of fashion industry insiders evaluated nominees and determined the honorees. Style Award Committee members were Sabrina R. Clark, Fashion Editor with Soul Pitt Media Consultant and Stylist at Sabrina’s Fashion Consulting, Eric Gaines, Founder of Emage Models, LaMont Jones, a Pittsburgh fashion icon, Allegra Johnson, founder of CitySTYLE and journalist with American Urban Radio Networks, and Leigh Pugliano, founder and CEO of Straight Forward Consulting. Prior to the awards ceremony, which was hosted by KDKA’s Lynn Hayes-Freeland, singer Anqwenique Wingfield & Groove Aesthetic impressed the audience with a live performance blending opera, jazz, and soul.
Style & Steel Presents Style Week, upcoming events:
Saturday, August 10 — Boutique Crawl, 12p-5p
Boutiques throughout the city will be featuring trunk shows and special promotions exclusively to Style Week patrons. Participating locations will be announced shortly. Free and open to the public.
Sunday, August 11 — CitySTYLE presents Beauty Boot Camp — LaLa’s Salon, 1p-4p | $25
Get glam. Get fab. Get fierce. Stylistas will be treated to massages, make-up and style makeovers, facials, demonstrations, and a variety of vendors.
If you haven't had a chance yet, check out my interview with Chelsea Baratz in this week's paper: The Upper St. Clair-raised jazz saxophonist is a bandleader and session player in New York, and is doing her hometown's jazz scene proud. By way of a quick update, I wanted to note that in addition to tomorrow's free show at Riverview Park, Chelsea is playing tonight at James Street Gastropub and Speakeasy — which was one of her old haunts when it was James Street Tavern. She let me know she'll be joined by Jevon Rushton, an old collaborator with whom she hasn't played in a while.
Upward of 1,000 people just witnessed performances by some of hip-hop’s best. Rapper Kendrick Lamar is nearing a platinum plaque for his major label debut album, Good Kid M.A.A.D. City, and made his first headlining Pittsburgh appearance on Stage AE’s outdoor stage. Sporting a white t-shirt and TDE hat (TDE: Top Dawg Entertainment, Lamar’s music group), the audience sang along with every word of his set. Rapping songs from his popular 2011 album Section.80 and the aforementioned GKMC, which HipHopDX named 2012’s Album of the Year, Lamar’s DJ often cut the instrumental as the Compton representer proceeded to engage responses from his audience with acapella performances.
Lamar performed his hits: “The Recipe,” “Swimming Pools,” and his guest verse from A$AP Rocky’s “Fuckin’ Problems,” all of which have received heavy WAMO 100 airplay. A pleasant surprise was his encore performance of a loose single and fan favorite, “Cartoons and Cereal,” which circulated on blogs prior to his GKMC album release last year and tells a story of being raised ‘in a sandbox’ surrounded by gang members and women giving birth.
A late addition to the concert was an opening performance by Kid Ink, one of XXL Magazine’s 2013 Freshmen, which highlights ten aspiring rappers that the publication believe will have a major impact in the year ahead. The tattoo-covered RCA Records artist was first to hit the stage around 7:30PM and had the audience of mostly 18-24 year olds hands in the air, waving along with his music. His Almost Home EP was released just a few days ago and the audience appeared to already be familiar with some of the Los Angeles-born rapper’s new music.
Kid Ink’s performance was followed by solo performances by each member of Lamar’s TDE crew. Jay Rock, who later returned during Lamar’s set to perform his verse from the song “Money Trees,” Ab-Soul, and Schoolboy Q each performed with only the assistance of their respective DJ’s. Schoolboy Q received a particularly warm response as he walked on stage blowing smoke and praising all the marijuana smokers in attendance before tossing whatever he was smoking into the audience and beginning his set. Both Q and Lamar's sets induced small mosh pits and periodic crowd-surfing as much of the crowd jumped up-and-down and side-to-side during certain songs. Each TDE rapper displayed a great amount of clarity and breath control, making what they do look easy as they nearly flawlessly breezed through their performances.
On Thursday, April 18, Wu-Tang Clan’s RZA visited Pittsburgh as part of his Wisdom of the Word Tour. The speaking engagement was held at the New Hazlett Theater, presented by Pittsburgh Arts & Lectures, and hosted by local poet and National Book Award winner Terrance Hayes. Interviewing RZA, Hayes guided a conversation that ranged from the hip-hop artist, author, and film director’s childhood to current philosophies.
It was through these excursions around New York City that RZA discovered hip-hop, which evolved into a route for him to travel the world with his partners in the Wu-Tang Clan.
“The travelling mind I would recommend for any artist,” he said. “Since those days, I was able to have success in music and travel around the world and go to different places — whether it’s Albania, the pyramids of Egypt, the coliseum or the remains of Athens. I’m travelling and I’m seeing life, and it’s really expanding my creativity.”
Although he encouraged the audience of hundreds to explore beyond their usual environment, he also acknowledged the potential gift that can grow within a smaller living space — comparing his time living on Staten Island in New York to the position of local Pittsburghers.
“What’s the benefit of being stuck on an island — or in you guys’ case a peninsula,” RZA asked. “The benefit of it is that you get to nurture something that nobody else has. Sometimes these islands and peninsulas do give you a chance to develop something great and unique, and when that develops and goes out to the world it really inspires the world.”
At times throughout the discussion, RZA read parables from his currently available book The Tao of Wu. As a follow-up to his 2005 book release, The Wu-Tang Manual, RZA talked about how the books differed. While the Wu-Tang Manual digs deep into the origins of the Wu-Tang Clan, The Tao of Wu exudes stories more reflective of the day-to-day life that RZA has led — with both the remarkable career highlights and negative decisions that have molded him into the man he is today.
“If you’re going somewhere in Pittsburgh, and you wanna go down to Kirkpatrick Street on Centre, you’ll find your way there. But if you’ve got a map, it’s an easier ride. And so, my book … it’s sort of a map. Because some of the things I’ve gone through, you will go through … just by being an American, you’ll come across some of these things. And maybe there’s a way to make it better for you, or just to give you a pre-warning or to let you know that you’re not the first one to go here.”
RZA expalined that he strives to give us a living example of someone who has gone through these things.
“Who is the hero of my life? It has to be me,” he said. “In the book you’ll hear me talk about all of the different people that helped me, or all of the different philosophies we come across, and we take some of these things as fact and we take some things and dismiss them as fiction. It’s each a learning part building you.”
Today, Ayinde Bomani is the running backs coach of the football team at Chaminade College Preparatory School, which finished first atop the Daily News Los Angeles rankings this past season. He is also head coach of the Chatsworth Chiefs youth football team. Coaching football is a passion of his that he cherishes with much pride. While his legacy continues to be built in/on that field, his journey began years ago when he was born in the Hill District of Pittsburgh.
Growing up in Larimer, Bomani, known in the hip-hop world as Suga-Free, experimented with various forms of creative expression. While he finds satisfaction in the creativity that is required of him in his current roles coaching football, hip-hop was an alternative artistic outlet during his teenage and early manhood years. His involvement in the hip-hop culture began with break-dancing.
“I was the only chubby break-dancer who could windmill,” he says, with the slightest chuckle. “That's how I kind of got popular around the city. I used to be on Larimer Avenue every day practicing how to do the windmill. Once I finally got that shit, man... I broke that windmill off and that was probably the happiest day of my life. I would windmill and grab a piece of paper. So, people would be like, 'Ain't you that fat break-dancer that could windmill while reading the newspaper?' I was proud!” (The windmill is a popular move performed by experienced break-dancers, it's when the dancer uses their hands and upper-body strength to elevate their legs, as their neck and shoulders roll on the ground while their legs swing around in the air like a windmill.)
As the break-dancing phase began to fade out, deejaying and rapping became popular. And Bomani engulfed himself in the music, developing relationships with others who were active in Pittsburgh at the time — Mel-Man and Sam Sneed, to name a few.
“Major Harris, he's a quarterback from Pittsburgh and is one of the original black quarterbacks. He went pro in Canada and bought Mel an [E-mu] SP-12,” explained Bomani. “Sneed was in the other gang, he was in the streets and bought his own SP-12. They were two of the first people with an SP-12. I was probably the first one to get an [Akai] MP.”
By this time, Bomani had graduated from Wilkinsburg High School and was attending college at West Virginia University. Prior to getting his own MP drum machine and engaging in the production of the music, Bomani was a solo rapper.
“I used to come home and get beats from Mel,” he said. “I'd come over his grandmother's crib and he'd have 15 rappers over there. I could never get beats. So, one day it was like 11 in the morning. Rap City used to come on on Saturday mornings. And I was, like, kinda depressed. My mom and my grandmother, they was a little sauced... 11 in the morning, sippin'. And I was like, 'man, I just wish I had my own drum machine so I could make my own beats.' And my mom was like, 'I wish I could afford it, I'd get it for you.' My grandmother was like, 'what it cost, how much is it, what is it... I'll get it.' Five minutes later we was in the car going to Swissvale. From Larimer Avenue, going to Swissvale... I was like 'I need a SP-12'... He said 'I got something a little bit better called an MP-60,' so I got it. Once I got it, I just started making beats. When I made the beats, I just started recording. I had a couple decent songs and sent them to this guy in Florida, his son was MC A.D.E.”
MC A.D.E. was a popular bass music artist around this time. It took a while, but Bomani eventually heard back from the record label that he had sent his music to. The label wanted to signed him, and Bomani agreed to a deal.
“I was supposed to be their top artist,” he explained. “Then, all of the sudden, I came home and the label was holding up on my project because their focus became a group of four boys from Tennessee. They were trying to get their album done cause the label believed in them. And, so, I was like 'damn, what's going on? You're pushing me to the side for four little boys?' So, their project eventually got held up cause one of the boys wanted to go solo. That solo kid was Usher, which is wild. His mom became his manager and pulled him from the group and took him to LaFace [Records]. Meanwhile, my album never got done.”
Again at home in Pittsburgh, Bomani continued rapping and producing. In 1992, he joined forces with two female MC's, Ms. Chievious and Ms. Cellaneous, as rap group Misfits In the Attic. Bomani takes pride in the group's approach of being an alternative to the gangster rap that was popular during this era.
“When we came up as the Misfits we wore overall's,” Bomani said. “The girls had slingshots, I was in shape so I used to always do some shit. We had a song called 'Duckin' Bullets,' and every time we'd perform I would say, 'man, I'm tired of duckin' bullets' and I would drop my overall's and say 'they even shot up my boxer shorts'. And, you know, girls would scream ... you know how ladies cut-up. It was showmanship. People dissed us, but the girls liked it. I wasn't trying to be like everybody else. It was myself and two women, how gangsta could I be?”
A pioneer of Pittsburgh hip-hop and friend of Bomani, “Melle Mel” Plowden referred him to a man named Tom Cossie. Cossie was a music producer, notably credited for soul/funk group Chic's “Le Freak,” who had started his own label, Saturn Records. Cossie invested a few thousand dollars into the group's music videos, and his involvement presented a variety of placement opportunities.
“We shot a lot of videos at Kennywood Park, and then some at the Strip's Edge. The first video we shot, we were on the Jack Rabbit,” Bomani explained. “We ended up doing this thing for channel 13 called 'Where In the World Is Carmen San Diego?' I didn't know what it was, but it was a big show, a kids show.”
Watch Misfits In the Attic rapping at Kennywood Park at the 0:45 mark:
The group's first music video, “Kick It Anyway,” debuted on Video LP, which was a live viewer call-in program that aired on BET. The video was shown during a holiday special, alongside TLC's “Sleigh Ride” and a Christmas song by Boyz II Men. Although it wasn't a full-fledged Christmas song, the Misfits In the Attic song featured a chorus that said, “it ain't a holiday, it ain't ya birthday, but we can kick it anyway”. It was the lead single from the group's debut album, Enter At Your Own Risk.
“We had a really dope album,” claimed Bomani. “But we couldn't get a lot of the samples cleared. So, we tried to re-do the album without all of the samples, and it just didn't come out the way I would've liked. It just was wack the way musicians were trying to play the samples. And I was inexperienced. It was a mere skeleton of what it would've been if we'd have been able to use the samples.”
As it was, the group's singles received a significant amount of radio play. Bomani noted the importance of Freddy Live, who had a studio in New Kensington where they would do their radio edits. Assisting with the group's radio presence was Al B. Sylk, who was deejaying on WAMO at the time.
“I learned a lot from Al B Sylk. We did a really popular ad for Port Authority Transit. It was like, 'Push up on PATricia, Port Authority Transit/Allegheny County quick as a... something advancement',” Bomani said in reflection with a laugh.
Sylk eventually moved to Virginia Beach, and for a few months Bomani lived there as well. In December of 1996, Bomani moved to Atlanta. While in Atlanta, he got a record deal with Tony Mercedes and LaFace Records.
“Once again, I had a hot ass single," he said. "It was called 'I Can't Stand My Baby Momma' and sampled just a piece of a Donna Summer song. Next thing I know, Donna Summer tells me she denied my sample. She told TLC, who was also on the label, that they could use her sample for a song of theirs called 'Bitch Like Me'. And Donna Summer had told them they could use the sample, but they can't curse. And I'm like, 'Well, how can you not curse on a song called "Bitch Like Me"?' Anyways, they used it and she was like, 'Hell no.' She probably heard the name of my song and wasn't with it. We tried to replay the sample but it never worked out.”
Once again hitting a road block, Bomani's deal with LaFace Records fell through. As frustration with the music industry began setting in, Bomani received a phone call from his old Pittsburgh friend — Mel-Man, who was now living in California and working with Dr. Dre. Bomani went on to talk about his experience working alongside Mel-Man and Dr. Dre:
Mel called me one day and was like 'fuck rap,' come out here and do beats and get the money. And I was like, man, I'm not trying to come out there and let Dre steal all my music and get no credit. I was like, 'I'm a rapper first, forget producing.' I just produce cause I need a beat, I don't care about producing, I'm a front guy. So, I came out to Cali on February 17th. Came in the studio, Eminem was laying a record, 'I am whatever you say I am,' or whatever... taking forever to lay this record. I ain't ever seen an artist take so long to lay down one vocal. Me and Eminem's [partner] Proof got on the drum machine... and what they do is, they turn on the drum machine and whatever sounds is on there, and everybody gets a couple minutes to make the best record. So, I get on there and made a hot beat. Proof was like 'I like that.' Dre came in and listened to it real quick, then just took the headphones off and slammed that shit down like 'this is some wack shit.' So, that's how it started.
What Mel did, and Dre did, is he would let them hear a sample and then replay it, but it would be Mel's drums. And then I'd pick Scott Storch up from the airport and he'd play his parts. And that's how Dre's sound started. All of them producers used to come around Dre. Timbaland gave Scott Storch a Rolls Royce for ten beats.
It's a funny life, where you probably don't got the [amount of] money you wanted, but you were there... in the studio watching Dre make music, watching Snoop and them smoke weed and Xzibit come with all kind of weed. I don't even smoke weed, you know what I mean. In Pittsburgh studios, like in New York, there's just a studio that gets good sound but you don't care if it looks crazy... it could be in somebody's basement or wherever. Cali... sheiit... the studios look like spas. I mean, you come in and they got a work-out area. The studios are hidden away in some places cause they be robbing rappers out here. So, you got security guards and you got gates that roll back like it's Fort Knox. And you wouldn't even know it's a studio. Then you got a restaurant in the studio, you got a food kitchen. We used to not even buy food at Mel's crib, I would just wait til we go to the studio. Dre had a work-out gym. We used to go to his gym in the morning, me and Infinite. It's crazy, man, I've seen it all.
Bomani continues to perform spoken word, albeit sporadically. You can find some of his spoken word videos on his YouTube page, where he also updates with videos from his Run 2 Daylight Running Back Academy. It's through his coaching football that he finds himself interacting with many of the hip-hop music makers that he was once pitching his demo to.
“I never thought that I would be cooler with Snoop on football than music," Bomani concluded. "Most people from Pittsburgh don't leave Pittsburgh, but the ones who leave... they make it happen.”
Just a quick heads-up: The folks from the SUNSTAR Festival let me know today that Jeri Lynn Johnson, who was to be the main speaker on tonight's panel discussion kicking off the festival, has been ill this week and won't be able to make the event. The discussion at the Alloy Studios will go on with the local participants, and the rest of the festival will go on as planned.
As previewed last week, Macy's of Downtown Pittsburgh hosted a Black History Month event honoring the work of iconic photographer and film director Gordon Parks. A diverse group of upward of 100 people, both young and old, were seated in anticipation of the “In Conversation” panel discussion, as local DJ Nate Da Phat played classic soul and funk music from the '70s era that birthed Parks' most popular film, Shaft.
Veteran freelance writer/producer Joseph Lewis hosted the panel discussion, while fellow Pittsburgh-based entrepreneur and Emmy-award winning producer Emmai Alaquiva joined as a member of the panel. Alongside Alaquiva were prestigious actors Terrell Tilford and Malinda Williams. In addition to his recent acting role as Sean Clarke on VH1's television series Single Ladies, Tilford is a painter and artist himself. Williams has acted in films including A Thin Line Between Love and Hate, The Wood and Idlewild, and may be best known for her role as Tracy “Bird” Joseph Van Adams on the popular drama series Soul Food, which aired on Showtime from 2000-04.
The conversation at Macy's included a variety of topics related to the panel members' individual artistic background and how Gordon Parks has influenced their lives and work.
“My interest in the arts was more about depicting life,” explained Williams. “I was just a child growing up who saw these interesting characters and interesting people and wanted to share them with the world.”
“You know, it's a privilege to be an artist, and I have to remind a lot of young people about this,” added Tilford. “We don't do a regular 9 to 5 job, some of us are incapable of doing so.”
Alaquiva, who is founder of the Hip-Hop On L.O.C.K. youth arts education program and currently manages his own video production company, acknowledged the life and work of Gordon Parks as an inspiration. He told the story of Parks being birthed a stillborn baby with no heartbeat. As the story goes, the family doctor declared Parks dead before another doctor went through with an idea to immerse the newborn in ice-cold water. The shock caused his heart to begin beating, as the infant Parks cried and came to life.
“When I hear that story, I connect,” said Alaquiva. “In so many ways as a young man growing up I felt like I was dead, but finding arts at the age of 13, and finding music and falling in love with hip-hop was my first introduction into the arts.”
Alaquiva added about Parks: “His legacy inspires me as a filmmaker, and as a photographer, and as an artist in general to continue to chase my dreams and to continue to use every second as a lifetime.”
“Gordon Parks was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things,” said Tilford, who is a long-time collector of art and fan of Parks' work.
“Of the works in my collection, and I own almost four hundred pieces, there's a piece by Carl Sidle... He shot a photograph of Gordon Parks with a silhouette of a tree over Mr. Parks' face. And, it's appropriately titled 'The Learning Tree,'" explained Tilford, who was evidently impacted by the piece as he began to tear up while talking about it. "The significance of that work resonates in terms of our journey as a people. And when I see that tree and the silhouette over his face, it reminds me of the journey, the struggle, the all that our predecessors gave so that it would even enable us to be here right now."
Like Alaquiva and Tilford, Williams shared a story about Parks that has had a profound impact on her life.
“I remember him saying something, and I'm paraphrasing, that at one point in life he wasn't sure where he was going or what he was going to do but he knew he had a fear of failure,” said Williams. “And that resonated with me because ... in some respects I have a fear of failure, but I also in some respects have a fear of success. What Gordon Parks said was 'I just knew that I would spend the rest of my life beating that down, chasing down my fear of failure.'”
As the “In Conversation” panel discussion concluded, the audience made their way to the table of concessions that was provided by Savoy Restaurant. Lewis, Alaquiva, Tilford, and Williams continued to talk with attendees and share their appreciation for this informative event that Macy's put together.
“Macy's has a tremendous responsibility, being an American staple from a commercial aspect, to give back to the community,” said Alaquiva. “And the fact is that Macy's doesn't necessarily just take one month to recognize African-American history, or diverse history. They do this year-round, it just so happens to be that it's February so we're gonna celebrate Black History Month.”
On Valentine's Day, Pittsburgh music artist Ricardo Iamuuri released a music video for his new single, “Imperial Sugar”. Directed by Alisha B. Wormsley, the video begins with Iamuuri typing on a type-writer, speaking aloud presumably acting as a news writer asking for his deadline to be pushed back. “I just need more time, can you make that happen? Yes, make time happen,” he says, before adding that it is a story he is not capable of sugar-coating.
The soulful tune was produced by Akil Esoon, of Formula 412, and will be made available on Iamuuri's album that is slated to be released later this year. On the songs chorus, he sings uplifting lyrics:
“It's never too late to shine, fill up your heart and your head will rise/
above the sky, it's a sweet life, sweet life”
The video concludes with various sugar-covered faces hymning “don't refine your shine,” you can watch Ricardo Iamuuri's “Imperial Sugar” below.
That's what the front door of Brillobox said on Saturday night as Donora was set to perform the final show of their Play Nice Tour. Presented by Opus One Productions, the locally bred band was joined on this night by fellow Rostrum Records electro-pop/rock group Teammate.
On a snowy night in Pittsburgh, hundreds of fans found shelter inside the Bloomfield club. The tour that started earlier this month took Donora and Teammate on the road to ten other cities throughout the Midwest and East Coast. The tour promoted Donora's new release, the Play Nice EP. It also helped introduce audiences to Teammate, who plan to release their debut project in the coming months.
After an opening set by acoustic artist Greg Dutton, Teammate's Dani Buncher and Scott Simons took the stage. Buncher on drums and Simons on a dual-keyboard set-up, the duo received a warm welcome from the growing Pittsburgh crowd.
A few songs in to their set, the opening bassline to their new single, “Girls With Boys' Names,” rumbled through the room as Simons began singing the song's opening line “she shoots down everything, even your best intentions”. Another highlight of Teammate's was a song that showcased Buncher as the main vocalist as she simultaneously maintained the beat on her drumset throughout the song. Their set closed with the previously released single, “Sequel,” which had the audience mimicking the chorus aloud. Having showcased a number of catchy tunes about the opposing emotions that are attached to love and heartbreak, Teammate's performance instilled high anticipation for their soon-to-be-released debut album.
Donora followed the great performance by Teammate with one of their own. In a glittery red shirt, lead singer Casey Hanner was joined on stage by bandmates Jake Churton on guitar and Jake Hanner on drums. They performed their hits, including to new EP's title song, “Play Nice,” and popular single from their prior album, “And Then the Girls”.
Throughout the set, Ben Tabas provided visuals on a projector screen that covered the wall behind the stage. The visuals certainly added to the quality of the overall show experience, as they often aligned with the lyrics of the songs — for example, the visuals for my personal favorite song from the new EP, “Under the Lights,” showed vintage video of couples dancing blended with video of rows of light bulbs lighting up.
What Casey said was the last song of their set on this tour, “Boom Boom” had the entire room dancing, as anyone standing still could feel the black-and-white checkered floor shaking beneath them. For this homecoming and final tour stop, the band agreed to perform a few more songs. “The Chorus,” engaged the audience to put their hands in the air and clap along to the beat. They aptly closed the tour on this Saturday night with “Weekend Tongue,” which again had the jam-packed audience singing along.