The evening kicked off with LA based rapper Old Man Saxon — whose fun quirky style had the crowd moving from the start. His ability to wrap up serious issues in seemingly light tracks is impressive and after this performance it’s no surprise that he’s the “Professor of Rap” at Hollywood’s Musicians Institute.
Next up was singer/guitarist Olivier St. Louis backed by his fellow members of Good Company, the live band originally formed to back up Oddisee on the road. The set was an eclectic mix of rock, soul, R&B, and funk with fiery guitar playing and bass-heavy grooves. Upbeat “In the Now” from 2010’s Oddisee-produced “The Mr. Saint Louis” EP was one of the highlights and as the intensity of the set grew so too did the crowd size and energy level in the room.
As Olivier wrapped up his set there was almost no pause and in seconds Oddisee was out and his set started. Songs spanned much of his career but tracks from 2017 release The Iceberg were predominant. “Waiting Outside” followed serious talk about mental illness and the need to lose the stigma attached to seeking treatment. Things turned political with “Lifting Shadows”, from 2016’s Alwasta EP, about mistreatment and suspicion of Muslims, written before the election but maybe even more on point in today’s world. But all the serious subjects were wrapped up in Oddisee’s signature eclectic hip-hop/funk/soul/gospel (And at times bossa nova) production which is so cool and makes absorbing the message a great experience.
The middle of the set featured the already-classic “That’s Love”, from 2015’s The Good Fight and had the crowd at it’s highest level, pre-encore. And there was no drop off for newer song “Like Really” which followed and had everyone rapping along on the title refrains.
The Iceberg’s “Rain Dance” featured early on in the encore and was followed by “NNGE (Never Not Getting Enough)” where the classic sound of Washington DC (And surrounding areas, aka The DMV), Go-go, really took over in a shout out to the people of Oddisee’s home town.
It was a great night.
Lastly, Good Company were mind blowing. Incredible musicians and grooves and they play together extremely well. Props to bass player and music director Dennis Turner whose playing was one of the best parts of the show.
Words and photos by Tim Aarons