Lizzo and Anderson .Paak Prove That a Good Jam Never Goes Out of Style
Word is that Mac DeMarco has seen his shadow, which means it must be that season again, the season during which fans flock to fields, arenas, and beaches; when artists like Anderson .Paak and Lizzo make bank; when social media is flooded with shaky, out-of-focus videos meant to bear witness (read: inspire unbearable bouts of FOMO).
Yes, tour season is firmly underway. America’s marquee artists are making the rounds, and there’s no telling what you might see. Lamborghinis might float through the air; beds might too, and, yeah, stages will probably float as well. Concerts have always placed a premium on the spectacular, but over the course of the past decade or so, a confluence of circumstances—technological advances, the music industry’s changing financial structure, social media pandering—has transformed what constitutes a concert in the first place. Live shows have become virtual (and sometimes literal) amusement parks, with live bands giving way to massive screens, extravagant pyrotechnics, and boundless indulgences of imagination.
It’s all bringing us closer to the stars—or at least, magnifying them—and providing new, highly Instragrammable thrills. But for stars like .Paak, the movement towards making live music more technological and lavishly theatrical is an opportunity to rebel: to zig where others are zagging, to double down on what’s been left behind. “Whenever there’s something like [forfeiting live bands] going on, there’s got to be a void on the other side where the people are really amped to see and to feel some real music,” he says backstage just before closing out Pharrell’s Something in the Water Festival late last month.
And during his set, all indications were that he was onto something here. From the moment the lights illuminated the stage and .Paak, perched above and behind his big band like a king at his throne, started drumming, the beach full of festival-goers was entranced, bouncing, swaying and singing along. “See, he’s good, right?” a man standing next to me said to his girlfriend. And then to his friend, “So goood!” (Both responses were affirmative.)
The show was very much in Anderson .Paak’s image; it had a vintage appeal with a hint of a modern sensibility. The way .Paak’s back-up singers swayed back and forth and clapped their hands above their heads recalled a ‘70s funk show, as did the band’s outfits (.Paak set the tone with a flowing Hawaiian shirt, furry yellow bucket hat, and leopard-print pants) and the bright, flower-power lighting combinations. It was all very groovy, but the energy was relentless. When .Paak wasn’t drumming, he was dancing at the front of the stage. When he wasn’t singing, he was rapping. And when the audience got tired of looking at the band, there was always an enormous screen in the background to hold their attention.
Part of what makes .Paak’s live band alluring is the vacuum in which it exists. As digital has become the norm outside of retrograde genres (rock, jazz), a mastery of actual instruments has become all the more impressive. .Paak’s dynamic act has routinely earned him high billing at America’s marquee festivals the past few years. And later this month, testament to his wager on old-school musicianship, he’ll headline Madison Square Garden.
But .Paak’s not the only modern artist finding success invoking the retro in his show and predicating his appeal on the playing of an instrument. On Sunday and Monday, Lizzo sold out the 1,800-person-capacity Brooklyn Steel on her Cuz I Love You tour. Wearing a gleaming red leather one-piece and flanked by a DJ and four similarly pantsless backup dancers, Lizzo put on a show that, like her “Juice” video, resembled an ‘80s exercise film in its smoky, muted neon aesthetic. She invoked Donna Summers’s “Bad Girls,” Aretha Franklin’s “Respect,” and her dancers occasionally glided around the stage in roller skates.
Source : Max Cea Link