Photo courtesy of the artist
Words by Mark Spero
Last Tuesday, March 21, people packed the New Parish in Oakland for a lineup of local acts and international stars. The intimate venue was filled with die hard fans and friends of performers, making for a high energy mid week concert.
The first group was Stoney Creation, a singer from Oakland, whose ethereal vocals and spiritual tone are reminiscent of Erykah Badu and the new Childish Gambino album. She wore a green spandex suit, and for some of the songs was joined by two dancers in similar suits. Stoney Creation has played shows around the Bay, and though she is a young artist and shows it at times in her performance, her vocals were captivating. When it all came together, the crowd was dancing and singing along.
She was followed by the local singer Cash Campain, who was joined by a DJ and guitarist. Cash Campain began his set with an incredible cover of Musiq Soulchild’s “Just Friends (Sunny).” His show was high-energy, and the rest of the musicians simply seemed happy to be performing, making for one of the funnest sets of the night. His music is heavily inspired by ’90s R&B. The crowd seemed energized by Cash Campain, and though he is still finding some aspects of his style, his best songs, like “Cheat Codes,” brought the house down.
The final local performer was Samaria, a singer with an incredible voice very similar to Kehlani. This 20-year-old artist may have talked a lot during her performance, but her songs were bewitching, and the crowd was astounded by her voice. She played from her album The Story of Right Now, but that came out a year ago, so I am excited to hear what she has been working on.
The first touring artist was CJ Fly, a rapper from Brooklyn associated with Pro Era. At times, the set lacked energy, but he is an especially talented rapper, and when his beats captured the east coast style, the crowd was jumping and singing along. This was a long concert for a Tuesday, and many of the more laid back songs fell flat.
When Little Simz finally hit the stage near midnight, she was a like a tornado. Her energy was infectious as she played songs from her most recent album Stillness In Wonderland, and jumped around to past albums. The audience was captivated but Simz’s flawlessly fast rapping, along with her excellent guitar playing. The low energy Tuesday disappeared and never came back for her set, with the small crowd singing every word while dancing and filling the venue. This is Simz’s second time in Oakland, and she said “I love this city!” She is constantly moving around the stage and engaging with the audience, realizing her full capacity to create a gripping show. The young rapper may not have fully broken into the American rap scene, but with an impressive new album, and a refreshingly energetic live show, it is only a matter of time before she is playing larger venues around the country.