January 30, 2019 @ Brighton Music Hall
On a miserably cold night in a tiny venue called Brighton Music Hall, a duo named Brasstracks injected life into the night. Their genre of “future brass” makes for one of the most explosive, entertaining concerts that anyone can ask for. The Vibrant Tour with Kemba and Pell lived up to its name in the exuberance that the two brought to the stage (along with their many guest artists).
Kemba opened up the concert with a slow start that ended with a fiery bang. Switching up between his rapping with a DJ behind him and rapping bars about his personal take on gentrification and society a capella, the dynamic performance sparked the audience’s enthusiasm and interest. He often pumped the audience up by having them repeat lyrics like “Do that shit, do that shit, do it” along with, as he put it, the “therapeutic” lines “Do you know who you fuckin’ with?” By the end, everybody in the room thawed from the snow outside, and we were ready for the main act.
Brasstracks stepped on the stage supported by a round of cheers and applause. Looking around, the duo drew an eclectic crowd of every age, race, and gender. It makes sense, though, considering the play a medley of hip hop, jazz, electronic, and pop. There seemed to be a little taste of everyone’s music preferences. Where Kemba started off slow, Brasstracks jumped out with a bang. Trumpets are an underrated instrument, each note acting like a bullet of power that takes the crowd by storm, and trumpeter Ivan Jackson seemed fully conscious of this.
From the very beginning, Jackson, drummer Connor Rayne, and the backup brass players exploded in energy and life. Along with the trumpet, Jackson also controlled the beats on his Mac and the keyboard next to it. This was an impressive feat to watch: his eyes flicked from each instrument with intense concentration, trading priorities every few seconds while still managing to look effortless and spirited. While Jackson fronted a multitasking superpower, Rayne’s speed and precision at the drums was an event within itself. His drumsticks bounced off snares and hi-hats faster than the human eye could catch, making his hands blur in the rush of the song.
At one point, Jackson playfully said “So if you can’t tell, this is pretty much the Brasstracks and Friends Tour,” in reference to the guest artists that joined them on stage including Fatherdude, Kemba, S’ntra, and Pell. Fatherdude was the only non-hip hop artist, bringing R&B to the set. Even though the drums and trumpets were so profuse, Fatherdude held so much control over the power of his voice that he was never once drowned out. Brasstracks had a chemistry with each artist that allowed them to complement each other instead of competing.
After a few more Brasstracks songs where Jackson’s trumpet playing ripped the room apart, S’ntra stepped on stage (probably so Jackson could take a breather). S’ntra rapped a few songs alone before Fatherdude stepped out with him, captivating the audience with an energetic performance of “Opposite Ways,” acting as the crux of all the genres played throughout the night. The jazziness of the trumpet, the R&B of Fatherdude, the hip hop of S’ntra, and the electronic of Jackson’s synths; it all worked.
After Brasstracks performed a cover of a Ja Rule song, noting at the end “Shoutout to Ja Rule, despite the Fyre Festival,” they brought Kemba back out on stage. The amazing part of this concert was the infectious fun that Brasstracks seemed to have with the rappers. When Pell, the last feature artist, performed, Rayne drummed with life as Pell leaped around the stage, rapping with ease, while Jackson enthusiastically switched between Mac and keyboard. They finished off with playing a cover of “My Boo” by Ghost Town’s DJ, a song from their new EP, and a cover of “XO Tour Llif3” by Lil Uzi Vert (of course, the crowd ecstatically supplemented the absence of lyrics in both covers).
When we walked out, that cold January night felt warmer, somehow. Brasstracks had the ability to connect a diverse audience. People with a range of music tastes came together to enjoy one group and develop an appreciation towards others. The Vibrant Tour was just that: vibrant.
Photos by Sarah Sherard