Noname is known for her chill, easy beats, wise and rambling verses, and a somber attitude that Pitchfork describes as showing she’s “seen a lot of death and change.” She’s a rapper that I love on tape, but was nervous about seeing live. After all, how enjoyable could her show be if she really is as nonchalant in person as she is in her music?
But, from the get-go, the energy in the room proved to me that this show would be nothing but boring. Even before the opener started, the crowd was getting down to the transitional background music like they were instead spending their Saturday night at the club. When the divine and entrancing Ravyn Lenae came on stage, the couple next to me cheered at the top of their lungs, even though they admitted to me they only knew her from her feature on Noname’s song, “Forever.” Given, Lenae no doubt deserved exactly the amount of praise she received. She was beautiful, composed, confident, and sang with the preciseness and effortlessness of a veteran jazz singer. Her sassy dance moves and silly clap backs to teasing fans had me listening to her album, Moon Shoes, the whole next day.
Surprisingly, Noname played up the production value even more, preceded by a jazzy intro from her seven-piece live band. She started the show rapping from the wings, popping in and out as if she was playing peek-a-boo with the crowd. The people around me immediately started pounding their feet on the ground, cheering her real name, Fatimah, and taking video. When she trotted on stage she was absolutely beaming with a smile that let you know she’s an artist who really loves to perform.
On stage Noname is confident and breezy, rapping as if she were confiding in a close friend. She rarely speaks between songs, taking the spare time instead to run off stage and grab a pink sequined cape, or to let the band solo and jam. Though the audience’s energy never fell, she still managed to hit points of heartfelt intimacy, almost bringing me to tears with “Casket Pretty.” Overall, the show evoked such a feeling of unity that I left feeling somehow unified with everyone who had attended. She was charming, comfortable, and seemed to just glow. It’s a show I would recommend to anyone looking for a breath of fresh air.
Photo Credit: Rollingstone