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I first heard of Yung Pinch back in 2016. It was the height of the Soundcloud Rap era and I had stumbled across the “Rock With Us” video on the ELEVATOR YouTube channel. In a scene that was littered with face tattoos, guns, and promethazine fueled raps, Yung Pinch offered an alternative vibe. Staying true to his roots, the 19-year-old’s “714Ever” mixtape boasted a laidback, lighthearted, melodic chill beachboy vibe that contrasted heavily with most of the scene. Combined with his ability to seamlessly blend hip-hop, R&B, and pop elements, Pinch’s signature sound catapulted him into a lane of his own. As a Southern California local, his music and vibe really resonated with me. I immediately became a fan and consumed his catalog and eagerly awaited each following release. Fast forward to 2023: the stars aligned and I got the opportunity to photograph Yung Pinch. Let’s hop into it.

Opening first for the night was an artist I hadn’t heard of until this show, Moon Lander. Born Dillon Houston Church, Moon Lander was tasked with setting the tone for the night, and he surely didn’t disappoint. With singles such as “BrightSide” and “Swish”, Moon Lander proved he was not only a logical choice, but a great choice to open for this tour. Backed by his DJ and a flutist, he sang and rapped his way through his set. Leaning heavily into interludes, Moon Lander also cracked jokes and bantered with the crowd. He laid it up well for the next act, Riley.

Riley kicked the production up a notch with massive, illuminated visuals behind him as he criss-crossed the stage with a mic in one hand and a smoke in the other. He rapped songs such as “It Feels Like I’m Dying” and “Pink Linen”. Riley’s been around the block with Pinch as they’ve toured together previously, and it showed in the crowd reactions as they latched onto his hooks. His melodic approach to rap was the best way to get everyone ready for the main act.

Last but certainly not least was the headliner, Yung Pinch. Wasting no time and no breaths, he hit the stage to one of his Lil Skies collaborations, “I Know You”. The crowd erupted with excitement as smoke cannons went off and the lighting production simultaneously kicked into high gear. One thing he did that I really like was he split his set up into smaller segments; he played collections of songs from each project and progressed chronologically. It felt like he was taking you through his journey as an artist. He snuck anecdotes and short stories in between each song and really connected with the crowd. One moment that stuck out to me was when he talked about ironically going into a difficult time in his life after releasing “Washed Ashore”. Another was when he talked about his struggles with alcoholism and addiction, but then announced that he was 61 days sober right before playing the song called, you guessed it, “Sober”.

Overall, Yung Pinch’s homecoming to Orange County was a hit. He started his career right here in OC when he was just a kid and he’s still only 26 today. He’s got a long road ahead of him and I’m only excited to see where he goes from here. When the beachboy from Bluntington Beach swings by your local venue, check him out. His show is absolutely a vibe.


Kris Kuganathan

Photojournalist - Orange County

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