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The Best Verses of 2022

2022 has seen some incredible verses, both guest features and artist’s verses that stood out on their own song. I’ve compiled a list of 10 verses (and a few honorable mentions) that, in my opinion, were the best of the year. This could include lyrics, flow, effectiveness, and whether the verse makes you rewind it to listen to it again.

(I’ve included time stamps for each verse, but I recommend listening to each song as a whole to fully experience the verses).

Honorable Mentions

“Freestyle 3” – Ken Carson

Ken can’t miss with his freestyle series.

“Almighty Gnar” – Lil Gnar

Lil Gnar one-ups Chief Keef on a song that’s named after one of Sosa’s legendary mixtapes.

“Big 3” – Babytron

“Wockiana turned my cream soda into Hennessy

Pull up from wherever, I got demigod tendencies

Unky fucking up the rope from West V to Tennessee

Hunnid dollar eighthy, heard you smoking shit that’s ten a G”

Bars.

“Intro” – Dbt Tha General/Seiji Oda

The verse is originally from 2007, but Seiji remixed it using City Pop-inspired production to do this Dbt’s verse justice.

“XXL Freshman Cypher” – Kentheman 

A stand-out verse on a male-dominated cypher.

“MDMA” – Destroy Lonely

Image courtesy of DLonelyArchive

2022 has been a monumental year for Destroy Lonely, Ken Carson, and the rest of Playboi Carti’s Opium label as all of the members (except for Carti) have dropped their own studio albums. Although this verse isn’t from Lonely’s solo album, it makes you question whether this song should’ve been on it. Ken Carson delivers a decent verse but keeps the same flow throughout most of it. Lonely doesn’t do anything new in this verse, but his calm yet enthusiastic delivery matches the production of this song. When Lonely punches in, he builds upon Ken’s flow, but then switches it up in a satisfying way by rapping:

“Big bro still serving rocks, yeah, but please keep that on the low

Yeah, shawty, I’m a rockstar, my guitar got a scope

I’m rockin’ all black and my cross upside down, I’m not the Pope”

This song is one of the best off of X, and it’s made even better with Lonely’s flow switch and passive delivery. This song is a definitive introduction to the Opium-style that has been taking Hip-Hop by storm, and Lonely’s verse solidifies it.

Destroy Lonely’s verse starts at 2:07

“The Kingdom” – Thaiboy Digital

Image courtesy of The Fader

This year we’ve seen multiple projects from the Swedish collective, Drain Gang, and Thaiboy Digital third solo project Back 2 Life is a part of this. While this project is nothing new for Thaiboy, it’s a welcome addition to his catalog. Thaiboy has generally remained the most consistent of the group, with the other members’ music sounding wildly different with each of their projects. “The Kingdom” opens with a solid verse from Bladee, but Thaiboy’s verse does this video game-like beat justice. If you’re looking for insane wordplay, bars, or storytelling, this verse might disappoint you. But if you know about Thaiboy’s struggles with drugs and the Swedish government deporting him and his family, the opening lines to this verse hit harder:

“Feeling resurrected, man, I can’t go back to hell

I was fucking up the balance, so the darkness tipped the scale

Now I’m going so damn hard, I’m making sure they’re living well

My life is a movie, tell my daughter fairytales”

Thaiboy and the other DG members’ lyrics and production have reflected more positivity, especially when compared to their early work. This verse follows this trend. This verse expresses a level of emotional growth and despite the darkness “tipping the scale”, Thaiboy’s able to overcome it and grow from it.

Thaiboy Digital’s verse starts at 0:55

“aero3” – Seiji Oda

Image courtesy of The Martorialist

Seiji Oda’s album lofi//HYPHY was an exploration of genre-bending music. This album mixed the well-known Lofi genre, popularized by that one YouTube live stream that had that looping video of the anime girl chilling with the cat, and Hyphy, a genre native to the Bay area, which is characterized by its danceability. Aero3 is more of a Lofi cut off the album, however, the drum patterns and dance track sound effects sprinkled throughout the song add elements of Hyphy to the mix. This song is personal, with Seiji going into detail about his family, friends, and past relations,

“Can’t say her name, but we ain’t talk in a minute

Some people, you gotta love from a distance

You made your choice, I made mine, what’s the difference?

I still hope that you find what you’re missin'”

The production in this section is all over the place, in the best way possible. Seiji’s ability to keep up with the constantly changing beat and switch his flows accordingly makes for a great listen. His vocals stay relatively calm throughout the verse, but he’s able to explore different vocal ranges within his calm delivery if that makes sense. If it doesn’t, just listen to the song, if it does, you should still listen to it. To make things even better, there’s a Hyperpop version of this song, which I talk about in my interview with Seiji (check it out).

Seiji Oda’s second verse starts at 1:27

“Murdaman! (Remix)” – Chief Keef

Image courtesy of Hip Hop DX

2022 was a relatively quiet year for Chief Keef, mostly doing features and focusing on his clothing brand and label, 43B, which saw him signing Lil Gnar. He’s hopped on a few features and delivered every time. This feature is no exception. “Murdaman!” by YungManny originally blew up on TikTok (yeah I know, just bear with me). He then asked fans on the app who he should get as a feature on the remix, Lil Uzi Vert or Chief Keef, and an overwhelming amount said Sosa. Great decision. The Chicago rapper’s bold delivery, flow, and lyrics perfectly fit this chaotic and aggressive beat. Sosa spits:

“Murder man, you ain’t never seen no murder man

If Chief So’ was still up on this block he’d probably serve a fan

*****s always got they damn hand out, that shit don’t hurt your hand?

And I swear to God that God the only ***** I’m worshippin'”

And he keeps going. In this verse, Sosa feels like an unstoppable force, and the beat is an immovable object. His vocal inflections perfectly match the blaring horns and his grizzly delivery forces the listener to be totally immersed in this bloodthirsty verse, both lyrically and sonically.

Chief Keef’s verse starts at 1:44

“Flawlëss” – Lil Uzi Vert

Image courtesy of Consequence

At the beginning of this year, Yeat and Lil Uzi Vert posed for a couple of photos for Yeat’s Instagram, and he shared a snippet of their first song together “Big tonka”. In February, Yeat dropped a solid 12-song project Lyfë, which included Uzi on the opening track, “Flawlëss”. This song is a triumphant opening track, and Uzi helps secure it. Uzi’s energy and cadence is infectious, especially with the animated opening line to this verse:

“Flawless, flawless, flawless, yeah

Buffy the Vampire Slayer with these Cartiers”

This line will send chills down your spine, trust me, just listen to the song. Uzi utilizes the heavy autotune on his voice to the fullest, working around the usually awkward autotune pitch changes whenever he decides to go baritone or falsetto, or whatever. This verse is exciting and energizing, made for Yeat’s mosh pits, despite how cringy his fans make them.

Lil Uzi Vert’s verse starts at 1:14

“Type Shit” – Babytron

Image courtesy of BabytronSB

2022 was definitely Babytron’s year, with the release of Megatron and Bin Reaper 3, Tron always leaves the fans satisfied but also wanting more. “Type Shit” is a two-part song, with the first part being slower than the second part. The theme throughout the entire song is the word “type shit”. If you don’t know what that means, just look it up on Urban Dictionary. The second part is where the Detroit rapper shines, with absurd bars about selling codeine to basketball superstar Giannis Antetukumpo and more:

“You internet thugging, I ain’t finna type shit, bro

Adonis, we’ll pull up with that baby Drac’

Charged up off a yerky, bet not try shit, bro

In Milwaukee charging Giannis for a pint of Quagy, ayy”

This isn’t the end of the hilarious and well-crafted bars that Babytron delivers in this song. He also raps about flying to Europe with an “enhanced fake ID” (whatever that means) and ends the verse claiming that he freestyled the entire thing:

“Freestyle type shit, no, I ain’t write shit”

It’s impressive how Tron’s able to use the phrase “type shit” in creative and innovative ways throughout the verse. This is a great song to introduce any new Babytron listener to his style, and it definitely won’t disappoint long-time fans.

Babytron’s second verse starts at 1:14

“Tomorrow 2 (Remix)” – Cardi B

Image courtesy of Dazed

Although Cardi B is known for her pop/rap hits and being a brand ambassador for pretty much every major designer, most recently Balenciaga, “Tomorrow 2” shows her skill as an MC, with raw, unapologetic bars that seem to flow naturally. I’ll admit, I’ve had my doubts and criticisms of Cardi B, but this verse proved to me that when she wants to, she can rap. GloRilla and Cardi B have become an unstoppable duo on social media, and Cardi compliments GloRilla’s deep voice and aggressive flow on this song with lyrics like:

“Ridin’ with my twin and ‘nem, and we all look good as fuck

She say she my opp but I don’t know her, had to look her up

I know that I’m rich, but I can’t help it, bitch, I’m hood as fuck

I’ve been on these bitches neck so long, sometimes my foot get stuck”

Cardi’s energetic, assertive voice and flow, which adds a lot to the already aggressive lyrics, make this song an instant classic. This one verse will have you rewinding the song multiple times, it’s that good. With 2022 being a great year for female rap, this song is sure to cement its place as not just one of the best female rap songs of 2022, but one of the best rap songs of 2022.

Cardi B’s verse starts at 1:53

“Dark Hearted” – Freddie Gibbs

Image courtesy of NPR

Freddie Gibbs’ album $oul $old $eperately was a victory lap for the rapper after countless personal and legal issues with his label, and Freddie’s as confident and consistent as ever on this project. “Dark Hearted” is a song about betrayal, perhaps the way the executive who signed him to RCA betrayed him, or maybe something more personal. In this song, he reflects on how most of his life, he had to depend on a life of crime to sustain himself and his family. Because of this, he’s constantly paranoid about being betrayed by the people he trusts and loves. While both verses are similar, it’s impressive how he’s able to reutilize lyrics and rhyme schemes from the first verse in his second verse.

In the first verse raps:

Dirty .30 in my hand

DEA and detectives, they got me cuffed on that ambulance

*****, ain’t no solvin’ no murders, welcome to Murderland

Send a hit and scratch off a hit, bitch, I’m the murder man

Pray the Lord put his hands on me

And I know I took a risk with this shit when I put my hands on it

All my enemies watchin’, they plot and plan on me

They gon’ end up one of them dead homies

In the second verse, he raps:

Dirty .30 in my hands

Shoot him, if he ain’t DOA, we shoot up the ambulance

*****, ain’t no solvin’ no murders, welcome to Murderland

Bulletproof my shit, they might hit it, bitch, I’m the murder man

Dead ***** put his hands on me

I’ma pop another bottle and pour one out for your dead homie

Swear my friends turnin’ fed on me

Man, these pussy *****s might take the stand on me

Violent, unapologetic, and dark (hence the name of the song), Freddie leaves little to the listener’s imagination, or does he? Is this a retelling of his life in Gary, Indiana? Or is this a metaphor for the label executives blackballing and betraying him? The reutilization of the first verse in the second verse is impressive, and maybe it was done as a way to drive the message of this song home.

Freddie Gibbs’ second verse starts at 1:21

“XXL Freshman Cypher” – Big30

Image courtesy of Rap Radar

Big30 is one of the main rappers from the new generation of Memphis rap to break through to the mainstream. As an affiliate of the recently incarcerated Pooh Shiesty, and coming off the death of Memphis legend Young Dolph, it’s up to him and the other young Memphis MCs to carry on their city’s legacy of Hip-Hop. Big30 had his moment in the spotlight in the 2022 XXL Freshman Cypher where he was joined by Nardo Wick, BigScarr (another Memphis rapper), and KenTheMan. Big30 punches in right after Nardo Wick’s verse, which, while enjoyable, is monotone and emotionless, a style Nardo has embraced. Big30’s energetic, southern drawl counters Nardo’s sonic numbness and emphasizes the lyrics that reflect his life in Memphis, including,

“***** spin my block incorrect, then somebody gettin’ killed

My young ***** fifteen with four bodies, can’t even buy a fifth

He ain’t even old enough to vote, that lil’ boy bangin’ Crip”

As dark as these lyrics are, it reflects the conditions of many young men living in impoverished communities in America, including the city Big30 is from. He’s able to let these lyrics sink in despite the speed and catchiness of this flow. This verse doesn’t contain insane wordplay, but 30’s able to utilize his heavy Memphis accent to rhyme “killed” and “fifth”, which I find extremely impressive, especially in a setting where most people freestyle their cyphers. In this one-take verse, 30 maintains a consistent flow with bars hitting left and right without missing a single word or going off beat. This is the best XXL cypher verse of the year, and one of the best verses of the year.

Big30’s verse starts at 1:25

“Father Time” – Kendrick Lamar

Image Courtesy of Complex

Kendrick. That’s it.

Alright, I’ll actually explain why this is the best verse of this year. Kendrick dropped one of the best albums of 2022 with Mr. Morale and the Big Steppers. Among the many songs that stood out to me, this song, especially Kendrick’s second verse, is ingrained in my brain. This song breaks down the concept of masculinity, passed down from father to son, and how it’s reflected in modern culture, especially Hip-Hop. In this verse, like many other Kendrick songs, the lyrics and delivery are relatable, whether you’ve been affected by the topic or not. Kendrick dives into nearly every element of modern masculinity, so much so that I could write my senior thesis on this verse. Kendrick opens the verse with:

“I got daddy issues, that’s on me

Lookin’ for, “I love you”, rarely empathizin’ for my relief

A child that grew accustomed, jumping up when I scraped my knee

‘Cause if I cried about it, he’d surely tell me not to be weak

Daddy issues, hid my emotions, never expressed myself

Men should never show feelings, being sensitive never helped”

Despite being a fantastic lyricist, Kendrick doesn’t hide the message of these bars behind metaphors (which is also what makes this verse so special), so I won’t sit here and mansplain this. Kendrick continues:

“His momma died, I asked him why he goin’ back to work so soon?

His first reply was, “Son, that’s life, the bills got no silver spoon”

Daddy issues, fuck everybody, go get your money, son

Protect yourself, trust nobody, only your momma’n’em

This made relationships seem cloudy, never attached to none

So if you took some likings around me, I might reject the love”

This part needs a bit of analysis. Kendrick discusses the individualistic and stoic mindset that many young men are forced to develop. I could even argue that the line “His momma died, I asked him why he goin’ back to work so soon? His first reply was, ‘Son, that’s life, the bills got no silver spoon’” reflects the capitalist and stoic idea of masculinity, where men should ignore emotions and personal obstacles in the pursuit of their goal. While Kendrick delves into the habit of fathers molding their sons into the tough men they want them to be, he ponders the lack of a father figure in some men’s lives, and how it affects their perception of masculinity. Kendrick raps:

My *****s ain’t got no daddy, grow up overcompensatin’

Learn shit ’bout bein’ a man and disguise it as bein’ gangsta

He ends this verse with a stunning conclusion:

“And to my partners that figured it out without a father

I salute you, may your blessings be neutral to your toddlers

It’s crucial, they can’t stop us if we see the mistakes

‘Til then, let’s give the women a break, grown men with daddy issues”

In the final line of the verse, Kendrick critiques the history and future of male misogyny, whether external or internal. The reason I find this final line so important is that many rappers and rap music can display misogynistic tendencies both personally and in the music (not always, there are many exceptions). Hip-Hop is not the only genre where misogyny is present and obvious, unfortunately, most musical genres contain some level of sexism and misogyny (classical music is a prime example). Since Kendrick is a rapper, and one of the best, this verse could be viewed as not only a critique of misogyny in rap music but an analysis of it, where Kendrick tries to explain and identify its roots.

Kendrick starts this verse by angrily delivering and shouting his lyrics. As the verse progresses, we see him mellow out, coming to terms with his internalized masculinity and understanding why it’s made him act in certain ways. This makes this verse feel extremely personal not just to Kendrick, or men, but to everyone, including women who usually experience the effects of toxic masculinity (“Til then, let’s give the women a break”).

Everything about this verse could be analyzed in greater detail, but I’ll let you do that for yourself, and I have a bunch of reading to do for class.

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CONCERT REVIEW: The Front Bottoms at Mission Ballroom 10/11/21

By Henry Hodde

The Front Bottoms’ performance at Mission Ballroom last Monday was a reminder that punk rock and roll is not dead. The genre is alive and well alright. It may not look the same as the days in which The Clash and The Ramones reigned supreme, nor does it sound like Metallica, or even Green Day. Nevertheless, fans of noise first and foremost ought not despair. 

The Front Bottoms at Mission Ballroom

The Front Bottoms are not a new band. Guitarist Brain Sella and childhood buddy Mathew Uychich began to write music together in 2007, adding Uychich’s brother Brian to complete the original lineup. Sella and Mathew Uychich still form the heart of the New Jersey band, but on Thursday, the founding duo were complemented by Erik Kase Romero and Natalie Newbold. The next hour and a half quickly morphed into 90 minutes of exhilaration, energy, experimentation, happiness, and noise. The concert was easily the best I’d attended live in recent memory.  While this distinction doesn’t really carry significant weight considering that I grew up in rural Middlebury, VT and spent my first year of college living through a pandemic, I have a feeling that it will take a while for another show to match this celebration of sound. 

“You Used to Say (Holy Fuck)” set the tone for the concert, with a strong drumset backing a series of playful guitar riffs and a set of conversational based lyrics that embody any good Front Bottoms song. “West Virginia” brought hard hitting head bangs, “Jerk” crowd surfing and a sense of vulnerability through Sella’s words. Then we were into the classics. “Twin Size Mattress.” “Montgomery Forever.” “Peach.” The songs that stole my heart- each one building the excitement, the energy, and the joy on the faces of those that populated the crowd. 

Sella belts out “You Used to Say (Holy Fuck)”

It’s the randomness, the human in the lyrics. I remember sitting in my room at boarding school, trying to write an English essay when Sella’s voice first reached my ears from my roommate’s Iphone 8 speaker. I was struck by the abstract, the volatility, the repetition. Lyrics like “this is for the lions living in the wiry frames of my friends bodies,” “I avoid using traditional techniques,” and “it’s snowing right now I wish it was summer” all define The Front Bottoms. They might seem pointless, unimportant, childish even. But it’s exactly this approach that makes the band relatable. It’s what makes the band identifiable. It makes them relevant. As a 21 year old kid, I don’t necessarily need wisdom in my music, nor do I desire it. No. I want friends. I want to feel someone else speaking about a sense of chaos and uncertainty. Who else gets the occasional feeling that they just need to voice their aimless and spontaneous thoughts?

“Au Revoir (Adios)” closed the show. Fitting right? One of my best childhood friends used to hate when I played that song for him. “There’s no point,” he’d exclaim. “The entire song has like 3 distinct lyrics!”  I always thought he was missing the point. “That’s not what The Front Bottoms are about,” I’d tell him. I wouldn’t say I listen to The Front Bottoms to learn how to live my life for the next 10 years. No. If I wanted that, I’d turn to those podcasts from Yale professors that my mother loves to forward my way. Maybe I just want to laugh, to bounce up and down for an hour and a half, and most importantly, to listen to noise. And I think there’s some value in that too.

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Concert Review: flipturn and Haiva Ru

By Margalit Goldberg

As we walked down the stairs to meet our Uber, I remembered to ask everyone if they had their vaccine card. Being on campus, it’s not something we all thought to carry around, but in the era of mid/post-pandemic live music, most venues are requiring proof of vaccination- including The Black Sheep. As we waited in line to enter the venue and had our IDs and vaccine cards checked, I scanned the crowd and it seemed like flipturn and Haiva Ru was drawing in an eclectic crowd.

By the time the Haiva Ru came on stage, the venue was only about three rows full, but the excitement and energy from the crowd could be felt nonetheless. Having only listened to about three of Haiva Ru’s songs beforehand, I didn’t have many expectations. But right off the bat, the difference between her live sound and studio sound was apparent. She sounds much pop-ier in her discography which includes her album released in 2021, Bloom Baby Bloom, but on stage her performance leaned more towards the gritty Nashville roots of her music.

Haiva Ru’s lead guitarist, Noah Rubin, killed it – playing everything from dreamy, synth-like progressions to gnarlier licks. Strangely, I don’t think he made a single facial expression, and the most movement we saw was a slight head bop. Devon Vonbalson,  stolen from flipturn, backed them up with high-energy pop-punk drums. The band was very much supporting lead singer Allie Merrill, which she made clear when she introduced them as her band.

Haiva Ru played both the electric and acoustic guitar slowing her set down in the middle to play “Wildflowers”, an emotional song about the loss of her sister and the destructive wildfires that plagued her hometown Santa Barbara. She ended her set with “Work It On Out,” which she was proud to mention was just used in an Abercrombie and Fitch commercial, which was very fitting given the track’s poppy sound. Also worth noting that Allie makes Christian pop music under the name Allie Page. Do with that what you will.

Flipturn took the stage and immediately their dynamic and carefree chemistry was illuminated. They’ve been together since 2015 when they formed as a high school band in their small town of Fernandina Beach, Florida and you can see the closeness and communication they’ve been able to create in the way they bounce around together on stage. The lead singer, Dillon, and lead guitarist, Tristan Duncan, begin almost every song face-to-face staring each other in the eyes. Then they burst into dancing and headbanging, bringing the energy in the venue even higher. Looking around, a good chunk of the crowd knew the words to every song, which is a testament to their growing fan base.

Despite their high energy stage presence, they hinted that the tour had begun to wear them out. When Dillon introduced the band they included the rubber chicken that they had bought and brought with them to each show. In a moment of honesty and slight desperation, Dillon explained that to break away from the monotony of touring they started an Instagram account for the rubber chicken. Upon request from the band themselves, here is a link to follow along on Jalapeno the tour chicken’s journey, and peek into the slight delirium that touring can cause.

Flipturn played two unreleased singles from their soon-to-be-released first full-length studio album, “Playground” and “Space Cowboy.” “Playground” kept with their feel-good indie rock vibe, but “Space Cowboy” gave a peek into the evolution of their sound that I’m hoping to see in their upcoming release. The track still had lively guitar riffs but it slowed down into something reminiscent of dream-pop, a step in a new direction for flipturn.

The encore was the most fun part of the night as the band and the audience used up the last of their weekend energy to chant the lyrics to Chicago, shouting the loudest during the line “I get high in Colorado.” Dillon came off the stage to mosh with the crowd and it became clear that the band would have the same energy no matter what size venue they play. They are all doing what they love and putting on a great show while they do it.

While waiting for flipturn to set up, I was able to snag the very last tour shirt and after the show, I talked to the band and had them sign it. They kept their carefree attitude off the stage and were all clearly excited to interact with their fans.  If you ever get a chance to see flipturn live don’t pass it up, but for now you can check out their Live at Sugarshack Sessions EP to feel the aura of a live performance.

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Greensky Bluegrass with Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real

by Max Brown

It’s August 7th of this year, and I’m standing in a crowd with some of my closest friends, unconsciously swaying while the sounds of dobro, banjo, and mandolin wash over me. I close my eyes, but behind my eyelids I can still make out the soft blue lights from the stage. I’m at Salmonfest, a music festival in my home state of Alaska, and Greensky Bluegrass is rocking my world for the first time.

Cut to September 17th, just over a month after my first exposure to the group, and I’m on my way to see the band again, but this time for my very first concert at Red Rocks Ampitheatre and with four brand new friends. I’d never been to Red Rocks before that night. I’d seen photos, heard stories, even listened to and watched recordings of live shows there. But I knew none of that would come close to attending a concert there in person, and I was beyond excited for the opportunity.

Walking into the venue, what was immediately striking was the energy. Everyone was excited to be there, and the feeling was totally infectious. I spotted several folks wearing Grateful Dead apparel, and while I’ve never actually been to a Dead show, I imagine the vibe would be quite similar—smiling and laughing folks everywhere you looked.

Opening for the show that night was Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real, and they were already playing as we made our way through the crowd, listening to Nelson crooning to the bustling masses that were settling into the stands. Nelson’s voice is both piercing and soothing—while playing “Just Outside of Austin,” his voice rolled over the crowds and seemed to emanate from around the sandstone lining the venue, singing affectionately of his family’s ranch in Luck, Texas. When the band played their most popular tune, “Find Yourself,” absolutely every member of the crowd was singing along, and my friends and I were no different.

When Greensky Bluegrass came on, the sun had completely set, and the only light around came from the stage and from the Denver city lights that were the backdrop of the event. The setting for the show was completely psychedelic. The stage flashed green, blue, and purple, and the band appeared as colorful silhouettes until a spotlight shone on whoever was blowing minds with a solo. I couldn’t help but feel as if this was the kind of show Red Rocks was made for—driving, lively bluegrass music and a strikingly beautiful venue amplified each other effortlessly.

Throughout the whole show, dancing was simply required. Slower song, faster song, absolutely blazing song, it didn’t matter. Whatever they were playing, all the music made you want to do was move. Even the event staff couldn’t help themselves from dancing with the crowd. With such a rocking, roll the windows down and feel the wind in your hair kind of feeling in so many of their songs, I had to keep reminding myself I was listening to a bluegrass band. Standout songs included “What You Need,” a loping tune with some fantastic solos from dobro player Anders Beck and mandolin player Paul Hoffman, and the group’s rendition of “Atlantic City,” a timeless classic made new with a bluegrass twist.

My favorite tune of the show came right at the end of the night—the band came out for an encore and played a brand-new song from Hoffman called “Grow Together.” Energetic and vibrant, it was a perfect song to end the night and send the crowd on their way home.

My first time at Red Rocks Ampitheatre (now my favorite venue I’ve been to), my first time seeing Lukas Nelson, and my second time seeing Greensky Bluegrass—a night I won’t forget any time soon.

Greensky Bluegrass’s new album, “Stress Dreams,” is available starting 1/21/2022.

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In Case You Missed it Music Reviews

NEW RELEASE: Still Woozy shares single “BS” and music video

by Augie Voss

Photo by Sergiy Barchuk.

We caught up with Sven Gamsky—known to fans by the moniker Still Woozy—during a virtual press conference earlier this week. After an exclusive early listen to his new track ”BS,” he joined Universal Music’s °1824 creative team for an intimate Q&A. 

Gamsky has been redefining the bedroom-pop scene without even dropping an album. His single “Goodie Bag” has been a staple on indie- and alt-pop playlists since it was released in 2017, and the 2019 Lately EP saw collaboration with Omar Apollo and Elujay, amassing over a hundred million streams on Spotify alone.

“BS” is quintessential Still Woozy, bouncy and dynamic. It features everything that makes his music so irresistible and instantly recognizable—rich and spacey vocals, playful drums, and deep, zesty bass.

The lyrics are introspective and relatable, providing listeners a window into Gamsky’s mind as he wonders if his thoughts are working for him or against him. In the end, he says, it’s about striving to be the best version of himself.

The music video for “BS” is every bit as fun and whimsical as the soundtrack. Gamsky, donned in his signature bold colors, has a heart-to-heart with a floating brain and befriends a horse in the woods. 

Still Woozy in the “BS” music video, via Still Woozy Productions/Interscope Records.

Since quarantine forced him to cancel his tour this year, Gamsky has had more time to relax, work on new music, and think about what’s next.

“I’ve been listening to the Dominic Fike album a lot… makes me excited to put out an album too because I have, like, a lot of different stuff.”

Gamsky’s knack for feel-good, beachy vibes has led to a massive fanbase across the globe. While he plans to keep creating music that makes him happy and piques his interest, he doesn’t want us to get too comfortable with any specific sound. 

“I don’t want to be limited to just one thing… I have too many ideas to be stuck in one place,” he said. “I want to have space enough to explore and express all of myself.”

Cover for “BS”  by Kahn-Tietz.

One of his greatest artistic influences, Gamsky shared, is his fiancé Ami Kahn-Tietz. She is the artist behind the vibrant, distinctive paintings and illustrations that comprise all of Still Woozy’s cover art.

“She puts art into every little thing she does,” he said. “Kind of makes her whole life into the art and I feel like that… has just inspired me.”

Despite the resources that come with fame (and a record deal with Interscope), Gamsky still produces all of his music himself—and he plans to keep it that way.

“I just love like playing with sounds and textures,” he said, leaning back into a pillow. “It’s so much fun to make beats… and just, like, create something from nothing.”

“Building from the skeleton outward and building the muscles… blows my mind a little bit.”

Gamsky doesn’t think there’s a right or wrong way to listen to his music, but he had a couple of recommendations for the ultimate Still Woozy experience.

“It kind of is a headphone experience,” he said, adding that he’s meticulous about mixing in little sounds and musical accents here and there to make each song its own little universe.

When you step into Still Woozy’s world of bright colors, flirtatious melodies, and luscious soundscapes, you just can’t help but stay a while.

Watch the “BS” music video here.

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Devendra Banhart Plays at Boulder Theater

Devendra Banhart at the Boulder Theater. Image courtesy of Lauren Hough.

Clad in the sleekest of all black getups down to the polished Prada oxfords, cleanly-pressed Devendra Banhart sashayed on stage and silently announced to that he indeed was a fancy man. The stage was set with a giant tapestry that displayed Devendra’s hand painted ginormous flowers that mirrored the floral design on the cover of Ma, his newest album.

Ma is multilingual and multicolored, splattered with primary colors and songs that salute Carole King and John Lennon. He released three singles as a prelude to the complete album, each one wildly fun and widely different- “Kantori Ongaku.” “Abre Las Manos,” and “Taking a Page.” With each coveted single release though, my understanding of Devendra’s vision grew- this wasn’t about a cohesive musical aesthetic but rather, a cohesive concept. This album is about those who teach us, who impart wisdom, who guide us the world, and it’s about those who bring us into this world. The album is Devendra’s journey into him becoming a Ma. It is his statement of paternity and maternity. Yet, I was hesitant to like Ma. I couldn’t understand this new role Devendra had chosen to play.

I saw Devendra and his band perform in Boulder with my friend Mimi- we stood front and center. The best way I can describe the experience for me was the feeling of being a preschooler. I imagined huge bugs crawling across the stage, and felt as if every audience member was sitting criss-cross applesauce in a semi circle, googly-eyed. Devendra talked cryptically almost, telling us long, extended, made-up stories about socks and concerts he performed fifty years ago. The kick drum was adorned with a huge smiley face, with the Om symbol for its eyes. The flowers on the tapestry seemed to grow- or I seemed to shrink- becoming more like a child.

He began the concert by performing “Is This Nice?”, a soft song loaded with lessons on how to love and cry and create. Give this song a listen for references to John Lennon’s “Beautiful Boy,” if nothing else. Devendra sang maybe 5 or 6 songs off of Ma before dragging a wooden stool and his acoustic guitar on stage and asking the audience what they’d like to hear. Some people ecstatically shouted their fave songs’ title, others widened their eyes and raised their hands waiting for teacher to call on them. I was in the second boat of people, and when called on, I requested Devendra play “Shame,” an old, silly song about boobs and playing in the sun. “Shame” is a song that encapsulated my former image of Devendra Banhart as an artist. It’s a song that makes you want to giggle and dance and let yourself be like your childhood self (the song does come off an EP called “I Feel Just Like a Child” after all). Devendra looked almost shocked at my request, it’s one of his oldest songs. He thanked me for asking to hear it, but said the band didn’t know how to play it. Admittedly I was sad. Unable to hear that song live! A minor heartbreak.

But thinking about it now, “Shame” didn’t fit into that concert. While I always thought of Devendra Banhart as having the fervent feel of a child, I had missed that he had changed. His music contained more teachings than before. It was less spastic. It felt put together and organized, in the way some parental figures do. Caterpillar has become a butterfly! Sprout has become a bean! Devendra has become a Ma!


You can read about Devendra Banhart, look at his tour dates, and access his music on his website, linked here.

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Superstar boyband Brockhampton brings rising stars 100 gecs and slowthai to Denver

By Auguste Voss

DENVER—On a Monday night, the line to get into the brand-spankin’ new Mission Ballroom spanned the length of the 60,000 square-foot building, doubled back on itself twice, and wrapped around the front corner. Fans planning for a sweaty moshpit stood in shorts and t-shirts in crisp 30-degree air, huddling together for warmth. Once the doors opened, however, it was a matter of minutes before the whole line was inside and de-frosting.

Situated in Denver’s River North art district, the Mission Ballroom opened just months ago in August with a 4,000 person capacity and a concert calendar stacked with major national acts. 

The venue already operates like a well-oiled machine—several entrances allow for speedy security checks, and once inside the building, conscious efforts to streamline the guest experience are obvious. A muraled archway leads into a second chamber, facing an expansive bar with the usual over-priced beverage choices and the option of a branded cup for cheaper refills. After grabbing a drink, bathrooms are conveniently placed on either side of two hallways leading to the main space—which was packed by 7:30 for an 8 o’clock show. 

Unsurprising as the massive turnout for one of today’s most popular boy-bands was the demographic that showed up. Early 20-somethings abounded, but the crowd was dominated by teenagers and high-schoolers in trendy streetwear, tour merch, and borderline rave gear. Sprinkled in the crowd were older fans, too, but they stuck to the fringes as younger groups pushed up toward the pit. 

L.A./ Chicago-based duo 100 gecs opened with a performance that seemed to draw mixed feelings from the crowd. Comprised of Laura Les and Dylan Brady, 100 gecs has created a refreshing if overstimulating tribute to the digital age through a fast-paced mashup of more genres than I can define. They’ve blown up in the past few months, but it was clear that many at the show hadn’t hopped on the gec-train – yet.

Their debut album 1000 gecs is a chaotic frenzy of death metal, chiptune, hip-hop, and explosive bass punches, initially striking the unexpecting ear as abrasive and overcomplex. But a close listen to  “Money Machine,” for example, reveals creative and endearing lyrics like opening line “you talk a lot of big game for someone with such a small truck.Sonically, the two have created an impressive, unique reimagination of digital music, weaving an almost tangible essence of internet sub-culture into their unrelenting barrage of angsty autotune and genre-bending production. 

Their live show, every bit as turbulent as their online presence, capitalized on the chaos woven into 1000 gecs. The duo jumped around to muddled backing tracks, bathed in green light, while the crowd tried to figure out what they were experiencing; many joined in the moshing, and a few who came expecting Brockhampton’s more straightforward pop-anthems appeared to be caught off guard.

The lighting switched from sickly green to intense red, and for those hesitant to get on board with 100 gecs, slowthai was more their speed. 

Born Tyron Frampton, the Northampton, UK rapper has recently risen to the headlines for masterful lyricism and bold political statements. After receiving a Mercury Prize nomination for his 2019 album Nothing Great About Britain, the 25-year-old wielded a model of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s decapitated head during his performance at the September award ceremony.

Slowthai’s music is forceful, propulsive, and engaging, covering topics from drugs to politics to his childhood background in riding motocross. And his stage presence followed suit. Fuelled by raw, manic energy and probably a good bit of testosterone, he waved the mic around his crotch and jeered “sometimes in life people will talk shit to you. When they do, you say ‘get the fuck out of my face.’” 

Slowthai ripped his shirt off just a couple of songs into his set. Standing still, I could feel the floor shake below me as the whole room opened up into moshpits. 

He finished his set with a spirited rendition of “Doorman,” which chronicles a fling with a rich girl and uses allusions to addiction, the royal family, and a children’s show to blast Britain’s wealth disparity. 

After slowthai’s explosive set, the crowd had a chance to cool down before their beloved headliner, Brockhampton.

In the early 2010s, now-frontman Kevin Abstract posted on a Kanye West forum that he wanted to start a band. Over 30 people responded, leading to the inception of Alive Since Forever and the subsequent release of the ASF EP in 2013. Over the months that followed, ASF dissolved and reassembled—about one-third of its original size—as Brockhampton. Since their 2014 inception, Brockhampton has released six studio albums, toured the world, and amassed a cult following.

Today, the boyband is comprised of 13 members: Kevin Abstract, Matt Champion, Ciarán “Bearface” McDonald, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Ashlan Grey, Robert Ontenient, Russell “Joba” Boring, Jabari Manwa, Romil Hemnani, Jon Nunes, Kiko Merley, and Henock “HK” Sileshi.

Each member contributes something unique to the collective, from vocals to production to visual media direction, and the result is a boyband like no other. Their music addresses difficult topics like mental health and sexuality in plain language, often drawing from band members’ personal experiences, leading to music that advocates for acceptance and self-love in a frequently disparaging society. 

The Mission Ballroom on Monday was a perfect testament to the spectacle of Brockhampton. Three massive, mirror-paneled crosses towered above the stage and LED panels lit the room from behind the bandmates. 

Kevin Abstract, left, and Merlyn Wood, right.

Abstract hit the stage first, opening with his verse on track “ST. PERCY” from most recent album GINGER. The groups other five vocalists, Bearface, Dom McLennon, Merlyn Wood, Joba, and Matt Champion joined Abstract and the crowd went crazy. 

Everyone who was hesitant to get down with 100 gecs and slowthai hit the mosh pits in full force when the group jumped into “ZIPPER,” a dynamic, quintessential Brochhampton anthem with opening lyrics “Pretty sure I’m maniacal, but what do I know?” Later in the track, Wood belted: “shoutout to south-central San Marcos, I got addicted to soft shell tacos.”

Left to right: Kevin Abstract, Joba, Matt Champion, Bearface, and Dom McLennon.

Mosh pits steadily continued, pausing only for “SUGAR.” The song is a cathartic, bittersweet ode to the love, late-night shenanigans, and drug-induced highs that populated the band’s younger years; it felt fitting, then, that the vibe of the room shifted from hip-hop show to high school dance as the crowd slowed down, swayed back and forth, and shouted along to the lyrics. 

The crew closed with “No Halo,” and the end of the show was like coming out of a daze—one I didn’t particularly want to leave behind.

The Brockhampton boys have undeniably infectious energy. Their achievements over the past six years, from the popularity of each studio album to their notoriety for insane live shows, have enabled the rapid growth of a fanbase that knows to bring high expectations. They certainly didn’t disappoint.

 

Photography by Auguste Voss // iPhone.

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Bedroom-pop heartthrob ROLE MODEL brings “Far From Perfect” tour to Denver

By Auguste Voss

DENVER —Just blocks from Coors Field in downtown Denver, the Marquis Theater is a low-key hotspot for local gigs and up-and-coming national acts. Tucker Pillsbury, aka ROLE MODEL, stopped by in November on his inaugural “Far From Perfect” tour.

Oxeye Daisy by Auguste Voss

The night began with Denver grunge-pop outfit Oxeye Daisy. Flamboyant, brightly-colored animal print attire added to an already energetic stage presence. While many garage-rock groups might find their sound muddled at a smaller venue like the Marquis, Oxeye Daisy’s music felt crisp and refreshing in a wonderful, grungy sort of way.

Nineteen-year-old songwriter Mills. was next, gracing the stage with a solo set. His voice, smooth as butter, sounded like a bouncier Lewis Capaldi. A wide-brimmed hat was the cherry-on-top of an outfit seemingly catered to his stop in the southwest. Mills. has created a space for himself in the oversaturated bedroom pop realm, working with ‘Surf Trap’ artist Felly on recent single “Water.” Already ahead of the game at nineteen, Mills. demonstrated a passion for music that seemed to tell the audience “this is just the beginning.”

Mills. by Auguste Voss

After plenty of hype from the opening acts, ROLE MODEL burst onstage with a grin that had the whole room cheering even before the music started. The epitome of the teenage heartthrob, ROLE MODEL swept perfectly-disheveled hair away from his eyes as he scanned the room. 

ROLE MODEL by Auguste Voss

At first glance, ROLE MODEL feels like an unexciting archetype—another cigarette-smoking wannabe popstar with skinny jeans and edgy tattoos. But Pillsbury weaves a persona that tells us that he knows exactly what he’s doing, and his music is honest and raw.

His “Far From Perfect” tagline feels like an authentic testament to growing up in Gen Z, and recent songs like “minimal” and “notice me” are anthems of teenage angst and relationship troubles.

ROLE MODEL dances in the crowd. Photo by Auguste Voss

I was impressed that the 22-year old bedroom-pop icon, still testing the waters of national touring, brought along a live band—and it made his show fantastic. Even when he slowed down for a sappy, well-received cover of Hannah Montana’s “The Climb,” his energy was infectious. He bounced back and forth across the stage, wandered into the crowd, and never stood still for more than a few seconds. 

After “thank you for coming,” the band dipped offstage for a moment before returning in full swing for a lively encore. ROLE MODEL closed the night with “girl in new york,” a smooth, catchy ballad of romantic dissonance.

ROLE MODEL by Auguste Voss

ROLE MODEL’s stop in Denver was a dreamy, well-polished sneak-peek of what will undoubtedly be an ongoing rise into the mainstream.

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CONCERT REVIEW: Wilco at The Mission Ballroom in Denver

Wilco won’t let you down. Over the course of twenty-five years and eleven albums, they’ve established a fervent fanbase. Their live performances have a solid reputation; they’re known to play at least two-hour sets at every show, and they always include some fan favorites along with the songs from whatever album they’re promoting. In fact, they even have a spot on their website to enter song requests for different shows.

Jeff Tweedy. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

When I saw them on Nov. 19, frontman Jeff Tweedy announced that it had been twenty-five years and two days, to be exact, since their first show. When he said this, I was applauding just like everyone else, but I found myself regretting that it was only my first time seeing them. I went to the show on my own, and the two hours I spent alone in the front of the crowd were some of the most stunning and exciting in recent memory. I hope I’ll see them again and again.

Even though I’d read a lot about Wilco’s live shows previously, their performance at the Mission Ballroom blew all of my expectations away. After a decade of rotating through various members, their current lineup has been consistent since 2007’s Sky Blue Sky. Each member was highlighted various times during the show, and most of them had incredible solos throughout the set.

Jeff Tweedy. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

In addition to the most iconic member of the band, Jeff Tweedy, I was especially excited to see guitarist Nels Cline and drummer Glen Kotche. Cline was named “a true guitar polymath” by Rolling Stone magazine on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists, and it watching his iconic solo from “Impossible Germany” was a highlight of the show. Kotche was also named to Rolling Stone’s list of the 100 Greatest Drummers, as they named him “a Jim Keltner-John Cage hybrid” for his talent and originality. Around the half-way point of the show, Kotche was dripping in sweat as his drumming drove one song after the next. Although Tweedy, Cline, and Kotche usually get most of the attention, each member put so much energy into the performance; it seemed like they were having just as good of a time as the audience.

Nels Cline. Photo credit: Mimi Norton

Most of the songs they played in Denver came either from their latest album, Ode to Joy, or 2004’s A Ghost is Born. Beyond those two albums, they threw in plenty of crowd favorites, such as “War on War,” “Hummingbird,” “Random Name Generator,” “Forget the Flowers,” and of course, “California Stars.”

Wilco’s sound and lyrics speak to various emotions around living, loving and so much more. As evidenced by the increasing size of venues they play on each subsequent tour, they manage to keep attracting more fans because of their consistently impressive shows and versatile music. They care so deeply about their craft, and it shows. For me, Wilco will always reign supreme.

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Concert Review: Twin Peaks with Post Animal and Ohmme

Cadien and Clay of Twin Peaks go at the guitar back-to-back. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

On the brisk and clear night of Saturday, November 2nd Chicago indie rock took Colorado by storm. Twin Peaks headlined Englewood’s The Gothic Theatre, supported by Post Animal and Ohmme. All three groups hail from Chicago, a city well-known for some of the nation’s best early blues and jazz, as well as its current thriving and exciting alternative scene. There is no doubt that the groups that took the stage in Englewood this November are following in the footsteps of the Chicago greats.

Macie Stewart of Ohmme. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

Ohmme, composed of the power duo Macie Stewart and Sima Cunningham and supported on the drums by NNAMDÏ, took the stage first, with an attentive crowd waiting to hear some fresh sounds. They jumped right in with heavy, purposeful guitar riffs and alternating harmonies that were left hanging in the air above the audience long after their songs had ended. Ohmme’s music and onstage energy showcased an interesting juxtaposition between relaxation and erraticism. The tracks “Fingerprints” and “Water” left the crowd especially mesmerized with their unique and earnest pockets of a cappella harmonies book-ended by intense guitar strumming. The orange and blue lights bouncing off the walls of The Gothic Theatre only aided in amplifying the surrealist quality of Ohmme’s music. They made my Saturday night feel like a dream.

Dalton and Jake of Post Animal. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

Next up was Post Animal, and while they set the stage for their set, Clay Frankel of Twin Peaks performed an impassioned reading of an excerpt from Milton’s Paradise Lost to the excited and anxious crowd. It was an interesting artistic decision, but one I could get behind. With the opening chord of Post Animal’s popular track “Ralphie” the audience has no choice but to lose it a little bit—the energy exuded from the band was contagious. With Dalton Allison on bass, Javi Reyes and Matt Williams on guitar, Jake Hirshland on guitar and keys, Wesley Toledo on drums, and all members singing, the band looked more like a brotherhood than just a group. During the fan favorite “Dirtpicker” they were assisted by Twin Peak’s Cadien Lake James’ guitar playing, catalyzing some intense moshing from the audience. Throughout their set Post Animal mixed neo-psychedelic sounds with heavy guitars and lulling vocals, tremendously succeeding in exciting and entertaining the audience.

After an impatient set break that I spent anxious to get back into the photo pit, the members of Twin Peaks sauntered on stage, beers in hand and smiles radiating. Twin Peaks is the collaborative effort of Clay Frankel and Cadien Lake James on vocals and guitar, Jack Dolan on vocals and bass, Colin Croom on vocals, keys, and guitar (oh my!), and Connor Brodner on drums. Their large following in the indie and alternative rock community was clearly visible in the excitement and energy in the audience at The Gothic Theatre—I saw multiple fans scramble to put their new “Twin Peaks 2019 North American Tour” t-shirts on over their outfits right before the set.

Colin of Twin Peaks. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

With their current tour Twin Peaks are celebrating the release of their latest album, Lookout Low, featuring “Dance Through It,” “Better Than Stoned,” and “Unfamiliar Sun.” Their new music highlights new horn and keys arrangements while recalling the well-loved garage rock-tendencies of their earlier work. At the Englewood show the new tracks were received with excitement and enthusiasm from the audience, but the older tracks were truly beloved. When Twin Peaks launched into their older hit “Wanted You” the crowd took to impassioned moshing under the pink, red, and blue lights that spilled from the venue ceiling to the floor. After the set and the encore everyone screamed for more.

From left: Twin Peak’s Cadien, Clay, and Jack. Photo by Jane M. Harris.

Watching the way Twin Peaks performs their music— with fervor and determination—and how they interact with their openers and audience, it is clearly visible that music, for them, is a labor of love. Though it was a cold fall night, everyone in the theater was an endearing kind of sweaty from all the singing and dancing. All three acts of the night put everything they had out onto the stage. I left the concert feeling warm and euphoric, excited to blast Twin Peaks, Post Animal, and Ohmme in the car the whole drive home.


Twin Peaks recently released a new single, “Our World.” Post Animal also released a new single, “Safe or Not: Extended Mix.” After listening to those, be sure to check out the collaborative effort of members of Twin Peaks and Post Animal: Column.

Upcoming tour dates for Twin Peaks can be found here.

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