by Sabrina Ruiz
It didn’t take long for Paradise Rock Club to fill to the brim with enthusiastic fans ready for Duckwrth’s performance. A fan beside me raved about how energetic he was once he got onstage; I hoped this would be the case,
Before Duckwrth came on, Ben Carr, best known by his stage name CARRTOONS, appeared on stage. Notorious for being a multi-instrumentalist and producer, the New York artist proceeded to expertly sweep through his keyboard and produce cheerful, bright tunes from his song “On My Way,” simulating being lost in a mystical forest. Pulsing drums and crashing cymbals pursued not long after, sustaining the high energy. Not too long into his set, Carr turned around and slid on his electric bass, which was met with cheers and elation from the crowd. Playing to a New York-inspired hip hop beat, CARRTOONS busted out some groovy scales throughout the fretboard.
Other bangers of the night were a runthrough of remixes CARRTOONS created as a tribute to his favorite artists such as Butcher Brown and MF Doom, adding his own spin to it. He gave a shout out to a fan who had bought his album, and then finished off his set by ditching the bass for a mic and singing samples from popular hits of today.
With such an elevating start, the night was only expected to get better – and it did. After a brief intermission, Duckwrth’s backup band came onstage. The lights began to dim, and they shifted into full gear with drum fills to build up the anticipation. The crowd erupted into whoops and screams the minute Duckwrth bounded onstage, as he grasped the mic from on its stand and continued to elevate their energy with some impassioned dancing. He opted to wear a traditional suit and tie with stylish ankle boots, but this was only the first outfit we’d see. He encaptivated the crowd with the energetic number “I’M DEAD.” He especially shone on his song “BEG,” with the stunning female background vocals of Olivia Walker, aka JustLiv, enhancing it. “You can travel the world, all seven seas / Can’t find the love as pure as we / But I gotta go, and you gotta leave / Won’t you save some space for me / I beg you, please.” The duo’s harmonies were perfectly in sync.
Photo by Sabrina Ruiz for WRBB.
In addition to songs, Duckwrth slipped in some entertainment as a bonus. For example, he sarcastically posed on a stool, cigarette in hand. With his suit and red curtains drawn behind him, it could have passed for a movie poster. Mid-song, he imitated scrolling a phone, saying, “It was 11:30 and I was a bit tipsy. So I saw Kiana, and I text her, ‘wyd Kiki?’ And you know what she said to me?” He egged the crowd on, before gesturing to JustLiv to launch into the honey-sweet chorus to “Eleven Thirty.” JustLiv deserves a shoutout for enhancing the entire setlist that night with her smooth vocals, as well as keeping the crowd hyped when Duckwrth took a water break.
Duckwrth disappeared from the stage for a brief moment, during which the drummer amped up the crowd with a drum solo, before reemerging in his second outfit of the night: a long black robe, with the collar outlined in white and a white swirl pattern embroidered on the sleeves. His hype song, “Power Power,” got the crowd singing and jamming along. “I said, ‘fuck it’ / Put it in hours / And when they dropping off all that drip for free / You know you got power.” Duckwrth bursted with confidence, bouncing in time to the band’s electric rock tempo.
His final outfit change revealed a fitted white shirt underneath the black robes. Duckwrth’s performance of “Crush” was especially phenomenal, passing the vibe check of an upbeat R&B love song — which explains why it is one of his top streamed songs on Spotify. “I can just watch you dance all night / And you would never let me down / You could never let me down (crush) / I can fall in love with you all night / And you would never let me down / A crush is my favorite sound (crush),” he sang out to the crowd, making sure to cover all areas of the stage.
When he left the stage for what was supposedly the last time, the crowd chanted for an encore, which was eagerly delivered. Duckwrth gifted the audience with a new song that was not on his album yet, expressing his appreciation for their energy and support as the night came to a close. He only succeeded in amping everybody up for his upcoming EP Chrome Bull, set to come out October 21st.