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Courtesy of Watsky

February 27, 2019

Watsky Brings His Mix of Slam Poetry and Hip Hop to the Westcott Theater

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Watsky might have been headlining at the Westcott Theater in Syracuse this past Saturday, but the unexpected star of the San Francisco rapper’s show was a cardboard tube. An hour before the opening act, a security guard picked up a tube on the stage to prevent it from rolling away and the crowd immediately became attached to it. The tube was hoisted up and chants of “Tube! Tube! Tube!” filled the air until opening band Feed the Biirds took the stage. I’m not sure why we all latched on to a cardboard cylinder, but the crowd was certainly not short on energy.

Feed the Biirds and Grieves, the second artist preceding Watsky, both gave shoutouts to Tube Man, much to the audience’s excitement. Both of the opening acts exceeded my expectations and they were able to easily pump up the crowd. When Watsky took the stage, however, the theater erupted.

I have only listened to the full discography of three musical artists, and Watsky is one of them. If you have never heard of this rapper, I highly recommend you look up his work. He opened the performance with “Brave New World,” a hit from his 2016 album x Infinity and transitioned into the 2013 track “Moral of the Story” from his second studio album, Cardboard Castles. Throughout the night, Watsky played songs from all four of his most popular albums, including Complaint, which came out in January of this year.

The audience maintained a high-octane vigor for the full three-plus hour cumulative performance and yet were surprisingly well-behaved. I was three rows back from the stage and I was not crushed, pushed, pulled nor had my personal bubble popped in any way. This speaks volumes to the kind of fans Watsky attracts; all three acts preached “positive energy” and called upon us to respect each other. That absolutely made the concert all the more enjoyable.

Watsky is well-known for his fast rapping abilities, and they were on full display throughout the evening. Although the audience rapped along with the songs, the cheer got noticeably quieter during the speedier parts of songs like “Brave New World” and “Tiny Glowing Screens, Pt. 3.” Wastky even crowd surfed — twice — and kept rapping while doing so without missing a lyric. If that isn’t impressive, I don’t know what is.

Beginning his career as a spoken word poet, Watsky paid homage to his origins when he performed “Tiny Glowing Screen, Pt. 2,” a poem reflecting on the culture of consumerism in America. Of course, the crowd knew the words by heart and chanted along with him.

Two of the highlights from the night were Watsky’s performances of “Don’t Be Nice” and “Feels Alright.” The former is a braggadocious track off of x Infinity, during which Watsky had the crowd chant “Don’t be nice!” in a loop like in the background of the song on the album. The audience had already practiced with “Tube! Tube! Tube!,” so, needless to say, we were well-prepared and excelled at the task. “Feels Alright,” from Complaint, is new enough that few people knew all of the lyrics, but we did know the general theme of the song. Four times, Watsky had us scream with the music in what was probably the closest thing this 700-ish crowd — primarily made up of twenty-something hipsters  — will ever come to a full-fledged mosh pit.

 

Jeremy Markus is a freshman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences. He can be reached at jmarkus@cornellsun.com.