All photos: Lotanna Obodozie
If there’s one thing I really enjoy, it’s when artists have epic intro music play before they hit the stage. It’s a great way to build up excitement for the crowd, and it’s also interesting to see what the artist chooses – a song of theirs or a song by someone else. Maryland electronic-R&B duo abhi//dijon chose to go with the latter, choosing “Know Yourself” off of Drake’s new mixtape. It had been out for less than 24 hours, but thanks to abhi//dijon, I got to hear part of it blasted through U Street Music Hall’s glorious sound system.
The lights were low, and the mellow R&B that had been playing through the speakers was abruptly interrupted by Drake’s voice shouting “I was running through The 6 with my woes.” Abhi//dijon then took the stage and chatted briefly with the crowd before beginning their set, mentioning that this was only their second performance ever. Despite this being the second time they’ve ever taken the stage, they played with so much heart that any rough spots (which were few and far between) were immediately forgiven by the crowd. Their music is so lush, and so good, that it speaks for itself and those in the crowd seemed to be fans of abhi//dijon since day one. This was especially apparent when abhi//dijon played some of their older songs; audience members would cheer at the sound of the opening notes and sing along to every word.
Abhi//dijon’s set was an excellent combination of older and newer material, and they even played a few unreleased tracks throughout, all of which were all received warmly by the audience. Sadly, their set was rather brief, but they ended with an immensely groovy new track that I cannot wait to get my hands on.
Then came JMSN. Straight out of Los Angeles via Detroit and serving some biker Jesus realness in a mesh tank and hiking boots, he took the stage (not without his own epic intro music) and launched right into “Addicted,” a standout track from his latest self-titled album. From then on, it was apparent that this was not going to be the mellow show I was expecting. Not at all.
JMSN and his band turned U Street Music Hall into a full on rock concert, complete with crazy dance moves, body-crushing bass, and pounding drums. The audience fed off of his energy, jumping, dancing, and nodding their heads along with JMSN, and he appeared to feed off of the energy of the crowd as well, with the show getting louder and louder after every song. The audience appeared to be a solid mix of day one fans and newer fans, with some of them shouting out the names of his previous monikers in between songs, belting along to songs, and cheering as loud as they could whenever they could. A real star of the show, however, was JMSN’s drummer. In between songs, he would look out into the crowd, his face full of awe, as if this wasn’t really happening. He had the biggest grin on his face throughout the entire set, and garnered some of the loudest applause from the crowd.
JMSN ended his set with “‘Bout It,” playing through the entire song, but instead of ending it there, his band kept playing, only getting louder and louder as he busted out some of his signature dance moves, as demonstrated in his Boogie Basics video.
He then left the stage, but was gone for only a minute or two before he came running back on for an incredibly satisfying four-song encore. JMSN had the crowd in the palm of his hand throughout the entire show, and I’m looking forward to seeing him perform again very soon.
– Lotanna Obodozie