Vans really knows how to throw a party.
From collaborations with Odd Future, to creating Warped Tour, the skate shoe brand and music go hand in hand. Now in their newest music related venture, the company is holding a series of free concerts throughout the summer in Brooklyn, Chicago and Waterloo, London.
On Friday June 8, House of Vans hosted the second concert in their Vans House Parties series with Princess Nokia, JPEGMAFIA, and Glitter Moneyyy.
Unfortunately, the show begins with one of the roughest opening acts I have seen in a long time.
Glitter Moneyyy is a Chicago-based hip-hop duo who frequently take on social issues such as, feminism, sexuality and partying in their music. While there is nothing wrong with this combination at face value, the way they tackle these issues is so surface level that it becomes borderline insulting. Their lyrics are primarily comprised of social issue buzzwords meant to appeal to the greatest common denominator. It’s like if a couple of Buzzfeed employees decided one day to start a rap career.
The biggest lyrical atrocity had to be the song, “Validate Me” whose chorus is a mixture of the duo repeating, “validate me,” multiple times while then proceeding to list off various social media websites.
The awkward flows and nasal inflections do not make their music anymore palatable. They are technically on beat, but it feels so clunky that it comes off as unnatural.
There is an undeniable chemistry between the two and they do definitely grab the audience’s attention. However, even when not overanalyzing the lyrics it is clear to see how vapid, shallow and intelligence insulting they truly are. Not to mention their lackluster performance skills really do not do them any favors.
Right after one of the worst performances I have seen all year comes experimental rapper and professional provocateur, JPEGMAFIA.
Coming off of his newest release, “Veteran,” where he brings some of the wittiest, but most aggressive social commentary heard on a contemporary rap, Peggy holds nothing back.
With a bizarre fusion of mosh pits, screaming and intoxicating instrumentals, JPEGMAFIA is the epitome of the unique state of hip-hop is in at the moment.
Songs like, “Panic Emoji” and “1539 N. Calvert” have beautifully psychedelic instrumentals that soar over the crowd.
On the contrary, there are songs like “I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies” where he prefaces it with a minute long rant threatening The Smiths lead singer, Morrissey.
Of course, he ends the show with his biggest single yet, “Baby I’m Bleeding” which goes off without a hitch.
The biggest critique I can give is that there did seem to be a little bit of a disconnect between him and the audience. It was almost as if he was holding back a little bit. I assume this cannot entirely be his fault, however, as I would assume the venue did ask him to perform in a more reserved fashion.
JPEGMAFIA brings energy, and creativity to a style that is heavily homogenized. From the unique beats to his no holds bar approach to lyricism, he is definitely an act to see if given the chance.
Headliner, Princess Nokia’s performance can really be split in half stylistically.
In the first half, she goes guns blazing with a slew of hyper trap-flavored bangers. On these tracks, she matches JPEGMAFIA’s energy perfectly with an aggressive flow and energetic movement. Singles like, “Tomboy,” “Kitana” and “G.O.A.T.” spewing confidence right into the audience’s. Had she maintained this style, then . Unfortunately however, this is not the case.
Towards the halfway point, Nokia takes the concert in an unexpected direction by bringing out not one but two guitarists to help her perform songs off her newest release, “A Girl Cried Red.” The album was released earlier in 2018 and features Nokia going into emo rap territory pioneered by rappers like Lil Peep, XXXTentacion and Trippie Redd. It has received polarizing attention from fans and critics with many taking issue with her off-key singing.
In her live performances of these songs, she sounds equally as off-key and nasal. The instrumentals are okay. I mean they are listenable, but they really lack anything that would make them interesting on their own. Sometimes they will reach a peak of sonic intensity, but Nokia’s voice will remain at the same volume and range.
At one point she covers Blink-182’s “I Miss You,” but it is here where her vocal flaws are truly showcased. Her lack of vocal range squanders any potential of reaching the same emotional impact as the original version.
Even with the flaws in the second half, Princess Nokia puts on a show like no other. Her overflowing confidence mixed her unique amalgamation of influences creates a special live experience, even if some moments are more lackluster than others.