The world doesn’t know who Raury is. In every article his name is always next to others such as Andre 3000, Kid Cudi, Bon Iver, and Kanye West in an attempt to give us perspective and something familiar to feel comfortable with because Raury doesn’t have an identity yet. Well, if your music is going to be boxed in anyway then this is not a bad box to be in. Raury appreciates these comparisons because these artists are his heroes and he doesn’t get defensive about his music because he seems confident in knowing that he’s not following any formulas and just doing him.
I’ve listened to and reviewed Indigo Child, I’ve seen his interviews, I’ve even played his video game, so when I heard Raury would be playing New York City for the first time, I had to be there. This is what fans do.
I saw that Raury played a few festivals prior in Atlanta and has some International dates planned in Europe but this show at Webster Hall would be his first show in NYC. I’m an artist myself and playing New York is singular. You might have heard “if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere” and that’s real. Whether it’s business or music or whatever, New York watches you with it’s arms crossed, letting you know you’re guilty until proven innocent. Raury had something to prove on this stage at Webster Hall and the crowd was waiting for that proof.
My girl and I get to The Studio at Webster Hall about an hour after doors open and manage to get to the left of the stage through the already packed house. There’s a DJ there but homie is just decoration. He’s spinning obscure shit that no one in the crowd is fucking with and he really could’ve gave Raury a much better alley-oop but the crowd standing still made it easier to get to the bar and back so there’s the Patron silver lining in that. About two feet from the edge of the stage was a set list taped to the floor. I recognized all of the Indigo Child tracks but I was intrigued by the Nirvana, Cudi, and Queen covers and excited to see how Raury interpreted these classics. I was especially interested because Raury is fucking 18 years old. “Smells Like Teen Spirit” came out 5 years before Raury was born, and Queen? Let’s not get into it, it’s making me feel old.
It took about another hour until any sign of the show starting but sure enough the monitors started being wired and the band began strapping up. The heavy bass drummed Yeezy-esque intro anthem “War” started punching from the speakers and a thin man in a hockey jersey and floppy hat hit the stage. Welcome to New York, Raury.
The crowd was ready to have a good time. It was mostly hipsterish cool kids and you kind of had to be to be there. Raury isn’t mass market yet and that’s why he was in The Studio which is the small room at Webster. But it was a sold out show so if you were there, you got your tickets early or paid a premium.
He went into “Chariots of Fire” and “Superfly” which are easily some of the more likable tracks from his EP. The NY crowd showed the Atlanta musician a lot of love and even sang along.
He switches it up to Nirvana. Like I mentioned before, the song is way before his time but actually right up his alley. Raury is unique in the way he can crossover without being questioned. He’s been labeled as indie hiphop folk rock, whatever that means, but can stand on his own in those separate genres as well. He really did his best Kurt Cobain and had me and the crowd hype as fuck.
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He went back to original joints and eventually got to “Cigarette Song” which I’m almost positive will be his second single. The crowd sang along to every word as Raury played acoustic guitar which later he ditched because the energy just demanded more from him.
“Pursuit of Happiness” was ill too because he’s mentioned many times that Kid Cudi is one of his biggest influences and it was great to see him perform a song that he probably has sung in the shower dreaming of a day where he could play it on stage at Webster Hall.
When Raury covered Queen’s “Bohemian Raphsody”, which is like the most fun song to sing ever because you get to take on characters and it’s basically a complete musical in one song, his artistry blossomed. He really performs a lot like Freddie Mercury. His mannerisms, movements, and facial expressions says he’s not like us, he’s got this music pouring out of him.
He closed the night with “God’s Whisper” which was his lead single. You can’t see it on the pictured set list but it was the obvious closer.
The show was delayed but when it finally started it was incredibly fast paced and sequenced well. As I was leaving it felt like something was born. I won’t say a “star” because it’s really hard to tell what this was the beginning of but whatever it is, it’s ready to more. He filled the Webster Hall basement with a few hundred people and I’m glad I got to be part of an intimate show because I don’t think they’ll stay that size for long. Raury has star power but doesn’t depend on it. The music is genuine with the right amount of pretentiousness and you can tell he has a real love and passion for his art and that will take it further than that business “I’m not a rapper” mentality that’s been plaguing the genre. The performance felt like I was watching Lebron play high school ball. I came to the show with my arms crossed waiting to be impressed but by the end they were in the air with everybody else.