In today’s landscape of electronic music, it is hard for producers and DJs to differentiate themselves from the crowd. Thousands of songs are posted to Soundcloud daily, many sounding eerily similar. The originality generally does not get better at shows and live events, where it is not uncommon to hear the same song played multiple times over the course of a night. That is why when something or someone truly unique comes along, it is important to step back and appreciate what you are seeing. RL Grime is a true original, blending electronic sounds with heavy hit hop beats, and on the first leg of his headlining tour in Los Angeles last Saturday night, those of us in the audience were fortunate enough to see a unique and extremely talented performer in a element all his own.
A local LA guy, the influence of RL Grime was apparent with how early the crowd began to arrive. Despite people in Los Angeles being notorious for arriving late, and a relatively early door time of 8pm, the venue was at least half full before the first opening act of the night took the stage at 9pm. Those who arrived early had the fortune to explore what proved to be an incredible venue. For any artist, the venue contributes a significant amount to the atmosphere of the show and the historic El Rey Theater located in the heart of the Miracle Mile in downtown LA was the perfect venue to kick off this tour. You could feel the history in the 1930’s art deco theater, mainly emanating from the massive chandeliers hanging from the main ballroom ceiling. A large bar was in the back of the main room and the upstairs featured a sitting area and bar along with VIP amenities.
By the time C.Z., a DJ/Producer from Florida, took the stage as the first act of the night, the crowd was growing in numbers and the front near the stage was already shoulder to shoulder. C.Z. got the crowd nice and warm for the first hour and fifteen minutes and by the time Salva, who is on the entire tour with RL Grime, took the stage, the venue was packed and ready. As another member of the We Did It Team, Salva brought his own influence of rap and electronic music to the stage at El Rey and had the place rocking for the entirety of his hour and a half set. By the time he left the stage at a little past 11:30, those who had never seen RL Grime before could be heard wondering out loud if he could possibly top the performance they had just seen. But for those who had seen the man before, they knew what was about to go down.
At a little past 11:40, the RL himself took the stage and immediately went to work on the crowd, both entertaining them and educating them on some of the more underground hip-hop and electronic music you will see during a sizable 800 person show. For more than an hour his DJ set was performed with both acute crowd awareness and technical precision. At a little past 1, he brought out his special guest for the evening, LA based rapper Travis Scott, who went on to entertain the crowd with both his rapping and his on stage antics, including climbing the rafters next to the stage. After Scott exited the stage, most thought the surprises for the night were over, but RL had one last surprise in store for his hometown fans. Around 1:30, he brought out Rif Raf as one last gift to the hometown crowd. After playing some of his classics including his and Salva’s Mercy remix as well as his remix of Love Sosa, RL exited the stage after more than a 2 hour set.
Although the night proved to be an incredible show, one thing that did hold it back slightly was that it was an all ages event. Some attendees looked quite young and many over the age of 18 feel uncomfortable partying in the presence of minors.
To see RL Grime in his natural habitat, a smaller venue with die hard fans, was an experience unlike anything that I have ever experienced. What I am most upset about is that he has already come and gone from my city and I can’t see him for the rest of his tour. If you have the chance, make sure that you catch him, his boy Salva, and the whole We Did It Team on their North American tour. Tickets and more info can be found here.