Thanks to our friends over at Hipt Creative Consulting — I was able to score a pass into the Musiq Soulchild & Raheem Devaughn show that took place Friday Night at The Vogue Theatre in Broad Ripple. Now for an 80’s baby like myself, who grew up as a huge fan of the Neo-Soul movement, there was no way I could turn down a chance to see two of the icons in the genre perform live — especially in the intimate setting that The Vogue provides. An impatient line of attendees stretched itself for blocks along the busy corridor for nearly two hours, forming well before the show’s scheduled start time of 8pm. The long wait and late-start of the performance was just a little bit annoying, but if you yourself have ever been to a Lauryn Hill concert, for example — you know not only do these things happen, but it could be worse.
But for fans who made the trip just to hear headliner “Musiq Soulchild”, many left disappointed.
The show started around 11pm with the opening — and arguably most talented — act, local Allison Victoria. Not being familiar with her work prior to the concert, I left extremely impressed with her smooth sound, and aura of the acoustic-soul that birthed Neo-Soul in it’s beginnings. Her opening rendition of Lauryn Hill’s classic “I Get Out” from her under appreciated Unplugged Album set a perfect tone for the rest of the performers. I couldn’t help but hear a lot of a mixture of Lauryn herself and Amy Winehouse in her voice, and I’m no music critic — but the girl can SANG y’all. Also showing proficiency on the guitar (along with her male vocal and musical accompanist, Yadin Kol ) She definitely displayed a skillset that rivals if not surpasses the vast majority of R&B acts we see in mainstream music. Follow and like her on social media right here. There appears to be a bright future in this young woman’s horizon.
The show then transitioned into another R&B opener (a brother who’s name escapes me but he put on a show of some R&B classics) and into Raheem DeVaughn. The energy that he brought to the entire theatre was the highlight of the event. After announcing he was celebrating 10 years in the music business, DeVaughn proceeded to rip through an electric mesh of old and new music. it wasn’t long before a pair of panties drifted onto the stage, landing at his feet. Raheem didn’t hesitate to drape the lingerie around his microphone stand, and sing into it for the duration of the show (it was that kind of performance). At one point DeVaughn proudly proclaimed “They still throwing panties, guess I still got it”, and the energy of his performance validated these claims. The finished his set by introducing a young emcee who together with Devaughn form the duo “The Crossrhodes”. The two performed a song entitled “America” from their upcoming album Footprints on the Moon — addressing racial injustices and “patriotism” in a moving song. Directly after his performance, DeVaughn set up shop at a Photo Booth and happily took pictures with a long line of fans even after the show was over, only charging small donations to his charity foundation to do so. His showmanship and graciousness was without a doubt one of the saving graces to the entire production.
The concert then transitioned into a set from Musiq Soulchild protege, Willie Hyn. Now just to be fair, the crowd was extremely restless at that point — and Hyn didn’t exactly set the place on fire — but the man can clearly rap (when he got around to it). The stage was not set favorably for him at all going into his performance, and he ended up leaving to scattered boos. I think that has more to do with the atmosphere and patience from the crowd rather than his own abilities.
The headliner and star of this show Musiq Soulchild finally arrived the long wait, and introduced himself to the excited crowd by performing a collaboration “Flower Child” with Willie Hyn (linked right above). He then immediately jumped into one of the premiere tracks from his classic Aijuswanaseing debut album “Just Friends”, and then seemed to be just warming up for a great performance on his birthday (more on that in a few). He moved into his newest single from his upcoming album “Start Over” to give a taste of his latest efforts. No sooner than after he finished “Start Over”…..his performance was actually over. As Musiq told the crowd “goodnight” looks of shock and disbelief swept through the faces of much of the audience. Mumbles and boos could be heard as the crowd started to disperse to the exits. Apparently he had no intentions of giving much effort on his birthday night. And the people were not happy.
It’s difficult to judge this show. Three-fifths of the performers were great, one didn’t get a fair shot, and the other was what appeared to be drunk and ready to get out of Indianapolis and celebrate his birthday. For the sold-out crowd of attendees — who paid a minimum of $50 to be present at the event — it is understandable how many can be upset that only 3 songs from the headlining act were performed. At the end of the day I believe this has more to do with the venue and promoters than Musiq himself, but his perceived indifference did not help the situation. Hopefully if he returns to the Circle City he puts on the exciting show that we all were hoping for, but at least his opening acts picked up the slack.
UPDATE: Thanks to a reader’s comment we have identified the 2nd opening act as Washington DC native — Izzy A’more. So let me take a moment to give this brother some proper love. He got the crowd ROCKING with some old-school R&B jams with a neo-soulful twist and also entertained with charisma and humor in-between the brief musical interludes in his set. The guy was a great performer and also let the crowd know he is part of the cast on the Hugely Popular show “Empire” as one of Lucisous Lyon’s Bodyguards. Sorry for not getting this info into the original story!