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Blog Concert Review

Concert Review: MIKE

In my preview for this concert, I wrote very briefly about my relationship with a more poetic style of song, the kind of style that MIKE employs in his work. It’s a type of sentiment that I share with a couple of my close friends who also enjoy a more mellow style of rapping. I mention this again because I never exactly realized the exact degree to which an artist could make me feel connected with their words (and their beats). I could continue on about this, but for now, I should probably discuss what the actual show was like.

I had initially planned on attending this show with a couple friends of mine, one of which was very familar with MIKE and the openers and another who wasn’t at all. In my opinion, if you plan on attending a concert with a pair, this is the exact dynamic you should go with. In my case, I was only really versed with MIKE, only being vaguely aware of the openers. Unfortunately, conflicting schedules let to my friends being unable to come along, so I was forced to go alone.

I arrived at the venue a little late, but still before any of the performances began, I still wish I could’ve gotten a better spot in the crowd though.

Prior to the performances starting, the venue staff had some quite enjoyable house tracks playing with R&B elements, which I may or may not have attempted to ID at certain points. Usually I feel like time is dragging on during the pre-show of a concert while my anticipation builds, but that wasn’t the case here.

In the midst of me vibing out to somebody’s house playlist, the lights go red and the first opener comes out, El Cousteau. The sound of loud trap drums was overwhelming, but the energy that El Cousteau delivered was arguably the most unique out of all the performers that would follow him. He didn’t exact fit the mold of a more “mellow” rapper, instead showcasing a more upbeat and excited mood, typical of the rage style. His set was fairly short, only about twenty minutes, but definitely did the job of hyping the crowd up some.

The next opener to come out was Niontay, who on the contrary did fit the mold of a “mellow” rapper. His voice was a lot more calm as compared to El Cousteau, and his lyricism felt more poetic, leading to a drop in the overall energy. This isn’t to say he or any of the other performers weren’t energetic, but more that they all brought a very different spirit with them, which I appreciate. My favorite aspect of this set would definitely lie in the beats, which were pretty similar to that of MIKE’s. They had a hint of some vaporwave elements to them which is probably one of the biggest things that drew me to MIKE’s music in the first place. I plan on looking more into Niontay’s music for myself, hopefully adding a few more songs to the playlist.

The final opener to perform would be that of 454, who felt like a fusion between the prior two openers. The first thing that immediately drew me to him would be his voice. He had a cadence which I’m not really able to describe, but got me more invested in his lyricism. The energy that he brought was more in line with that of El Cousteau’s, as it was more excited and fast-paced. With that in mind, I was more ready for MIKE to come out than anything else.

Finally, it was time for MIKE to come out, and initially, I don’t think I had mentally processed everything that was going on. To me, it was just “MIKE is here, he’s rapping, that’s cool.” It wasn’t until the hypnotic instrumental of “Set the Mood” came in that I had entered into what felt like a whole different reality. I felt this kind of familiar feeling that I had felt when listening to MIKE’s other instrumentals for the first time. All of his beats share this mesmerizing mood that never fail to put me in a trance-like state, pairing perfectly with his style of rapping. It’s a little difficult to describe, but for me, I believe the reason for this lies in this kind of “artificial antiquity” that he employs with the slight vaporwave influence that I mentioned prior. It’s a combination I never would’ve imagined working before, but MIKE somehow makes it happen.

There wasn’t a certain album or project that was focused on during the performance, it was basically a mixed bag of tracks from his discography in addition to some fun unreleased tracks. I wouldn’t have minded if it was focused on one project, but nonetheless I’m happy I was still able to hear some songs from early on, especially “Hunger”.

Throughout the show, there was a pretty clear effort made to foster a connection with the crowd. While being a great performer for one, MIKE is also just genuinely entertaining and funny. There was an entire arc about him not being aware of his friend’s birthday despite knowing him for over a year. I take pride in saying that I am exactly like that friend. Aside from that, I had just one qualm about some of the people around me, who seemed a lot more invested in a basketball game than they did the actual show. Which I normally wouldn’t care about, but they were right in the center of the crowd and slightly obscuring my view. Regardless, I still felt connected with the people who were there to actually enjoy the music and the artistry, and I especially felt connected with the performers.

MIKE closed out his set with the song “Closing Credits,” appropriately. I felt that it was the perfect song to drift away to and put an end to my hypnosis as I sang away part of the chorus. Somebody take the wheel, for real.

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Band/Artist Profile Concert Preview

Concert Preview: MIKE

Abstract hip-hop artist MIKE is set to play at Cat’s Cradle this upcoming Wednesday, May 22. This concert serves as one of the final shows for his “Somebody Fine Me Trouble” tour.

I’ve only been to one other hip-hop concert prior to this, that being Death Grips at The Ritz back in August of last year. Death Grips similarily being a well-respected band in the underground pushing the boundary of abstract hip-hop. I’m not here to talk about them though. Instead, I want to focus on a couple of the standout pieces of MIKE’s discography, and what I’ve been listening to from him lately.

“Burning Desire”

“Burning Desire” is the latest solo album from MIKE, releasing on October 13 of last year. This would be the project that would bring my attention to MIKE. I was immediately captivated by the sampling techniques that had been employed over his more deadpan rapping. This is not to say I don’t enjoy this style of delivery, I do, and I believe it pairs nicely with the dreamy and old-school production. My favorite track would probably be “plz don’t cut my wings” which holds a feature from the artist Earl Sweatshirt. Sweatshirt and MIKE often collaborate and share appearances on one another’s projects, both sharing a similar approach to their work. Overall, I’d say that this album serves as a great introduction point to the rest of MIKE’s work. It’s very definitive and is almost an amalgamation of his output up to that point in his career.

“Beware of the Monkey”

“Beware of the Monkey” is the most recent mixtape from MIKE released on December 21, 2022. I’d describe this mixtape as a beam of hope in the wallows of despair. A large amount of MIKE’s work centers around themes of depression, isolation, and self-hatred. “Beware of the Monkey” sees him in a more optimistic and hopeful spirit, which is always nice to see after listening to some of his more early works. When taking a look at the production, you can see MIKE taking a more of hypnotic approach that he would build upon in the aformentioned “Burning Desire”. My favorite track off of the mixtape would have to be the opener, “nuthin i can do is wrng”.

“May God Bless Your Hustle”

“May God Bless Your Hustle” is one of MIKE’s earlier works that would grant him some traction in the underground. Being released on June 21, 2017, the album reflects a lot of the gloomier sentiments common during that respective era of hip-hop. It’s an extremely relaxing yet emotionally crushing record that I can heavily sympathize with at parts. Out of all of MIKE’s projects, this would be my personal favorite, with my top track being “Pigeonfeet”.

Final Thoughts

Going solely off of the music that I tend to keep on rotation from MIKE, I want to expect this show to be a personal one. It’s a type of sound that he brings forth that can really connect you to others through just the music. I’m absolutely sure that this will be one of my most unique concert experiences and I’m very much ready for it.