From the 1920's Jazz and Big Band music of Duke Ellington and Walter Page to the 90's blend of the conscious and hardcore Hip Hop of A Tribe Called Quest and Wu-Tang Clan, New York City has always been a melting pot for diverse musical styles. March 21st, 2013 at SOB's was a manifestation of that core ideal as Urban Contemporary cult star, Jesse Boykins III headlined his first show at SOB's. The mostly female crowd mixed in with dinner guests made for
A truly great live show is measured by the sum of its parts and not simply a fantastic headliner. Hailing from Montreal, Canada is the mesmerizing newcomer Lina Gatineau. This impressive vocalist mixed between original songs and one stirring cover of Erykah Badu's 1997 classic breakout hit "Tyrone". At one point the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in Los Angeles graduate began to direct the lyrics of "Tyrone" at two gentlemen in the front without laughing or breaking character. The true standout moment was the opener, her unabashedly personal song on an indecisive ex-boyfriend entitled "Frontin'". Over a seductively brooding bass guitar Gatineau's angelic voice gets raw:
"Remind me why I put up with this,
bulls**t you pull I know a'int legit."
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Yazarah made sure every person at SOBs left with her burned into their memories. The veteran R&B vocalist has been a backup singer for Erykah Badu, released four solo albums and now is apart of the multi-genre collective The Foreign Exchange with Little Brother's Phonte. Her charisma was apparent from the start as she was carried to the stage through the crowd on a man's shoulder wearing a colorful kufi. Nineteen months removed from giving birth, Yazarah and her powerful vocals were riveting as she went through a few Prince classics ("Purple Rain", "Little Red Corvette") an original soulful ballad ("Starships") and a few other covers. She made you feel her pain with stories of wanting to throw herself at "the walls of life" hoping to die. She made you laugh by saying she needs positive reenforcement mid-song. She was a consummate performer.
Then there was Jesse.
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This man took his hair out of a bun into a wild mane and the entire crowd screamed for more. It was that type of night. From the love-struck middle aged woman in the front to the boisterously dancing young woman by the back bar area, Jesse had everyone in SOBs under his spell. Making them sway with a smooth rendition of Andre 3000's "Prototype". Using an engaging call-and-response in an extended performance of the "Amorous" to have the jam packed SOBs sing his words.
Even with repeated microphone issues and some visible miscommunication with his effects guy, Jesse and his various vocal tones made for a wildly entertaining night. However, it was not clear if this was by design or impulse but Jesse's set felt as if it went a few songs past its welcome even with a raucous closing performance of "Tabloids".
But when you're following awe-inspiring talent and having women yell "do more, we paid for it" the urge to overextend is a hard temptation to pass for a genuinely passionate singer such as Jesse Boykins III.
Follow Jesse Boykins III (@JesseBoykins3rd), @Yahzarah and @LinaGatineau
Check out video footage of Lina Gatineau performing her song "Frontin'", Yahzarah covering Prince's "Little Red Corvette" and Jesse Boykins III doing an extended version "Amorous":
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