Scenes From Friday Night’s G-Eazy Show at South Side Music Hall.
Oakland rapper G-Eazy’s latest tour — “From the Bay to the Universe,” he calls it — entertained a full house at the South Side Music Hall on Friday night.
And when I say “entertained,” I really do mean it: This wasn’t just a show you bought tickets to so you could say you saw the hip-hop heartthrob/James Dean lookalike live in person; no, it was a stacked bill full of Bay Area rappers strategically handpicked by G-Eazy himself that all led up to an explosive finale — one that made it very clear why this show had been a sold-out show since the day it was announced.
The venue seemed to be nearing capacity even by the time the first opener Kool John hit the stage. And it was a very trendy crowd, too, with G-Eazy wannabes and girls rocking plaid shirts in just about every which way possible. It was also, for the most part, a pretty young crowd, with the youngest fans already posted up, shoulder-to-shoulder, in the front few rows seemingly from the moment doors opened. Those less concerned with scoring the perfect shot for their Snapchats, meanwhile, stayed more towards the back, nodding their heads along with Kool John and the gang.
It was a Bay Area celebration, to be sure: Following Kool John, rapper Kehlani, donning — you guessed it — a plaid shirt and big hoop earrings, rocking FKA Twigs-style French braids and a voice like Tinashe, confidently demanded the the audience’s attention throughout her set, with a little help from her backup dancers.
“In the Bay, we don’t twerk, we Bernie,” she exclaimed as she and her crew all began rolling her shoulders back in tune with the start of a song.
Following that was the main support set from Jay Ant. While Jay Ant might be most recognized for his appearance on G’s single, “Far Alone,” he made an impression by engaging the crowd throughout the entirety of his set. Directing callbacks, coordinating middle fingers up in the air and even pulling an audience member up on stage, he got the room buzzing and ready for G’s impending arrival.
Or not-so-impending, really. After an agonizing 20-minute intermission, the venue went dark and a countdown clock appeared on an LED screen on stage, cuing everyone in the audience to put their phones in the air and capture the remaining ten seconds before G’s arrival. Finally, a tall and skinny silhouette of a man in a long coat and a brimmed hat stood in front of an all white screen before G-Eazy revealed himself to the audience, breaking into one of his latest releases, “Downtown Love.” The crowd went wild, as did G’s counterpart, Blizzy, who got right to work by beating down heavy on his drums.
A live drummer is just one of the things that takes G’s music to the next level during his performances. His curated selection of background video clips helps with this, too — including his VSCO-style photo montages during “Tumblr Girls” and a snippet of a Monica Lewinsky speech that he aired immediately following his controversial song named after her.
While G-Eazy has gained so much of his popularity from his recent full-length album, These Things Happen, he paid tribute too on this night to his older works that put his name on the map in the first place — tracks such as “Lady Killer” and the even-more-vintage, “Waspy.”
The evolution of his career was apparent when he transitioned into some of his newer works, though. The choruses and the drums were both louder, appealing more to the younger crowds that simply wanted to wild out and get lost in the music. Interestingly, this is all done with a sense of self-awareness: During a pause, G’s DJ took to the mic to poke fun at his more youthful fan base, asking for everyone in the room with a high school diploma to “make some noise.”
It’s a funny thing: As G-Eazy’s stock has grown, he’s gotten plenty of heat for supposedly becoming a rapper who specifically makes music for teenage girls. I don’t really understand this, to be frank. Full disclosure: G is a friend of mine and I had a role in his “Let’s Get Lost” video, so I admit that my opinion may be biased. But before I even knew Gerald, I was a fan of his music. My friends and I would rock out his mixtapes back in 2011. Assuming we weren’t the only college kids out there downloading The Endless Summer off This Song Is Sick, it’s safe to say that G-Eazy’s been building his fan base for a while now. More recently, he’s only upped his game, scoring opening slots for the likes of Drake and Lil Wayne, with his album debuting at No. 3 on the Billboard Top 200 and artists like E-40, ASAP Ferg and Too $hort making appearances on his songs. Sure, maybe his looks attract the ladies — and, yeah, his white boy rapper agenda might affiliate him with acts like Hoodie Allen, who he has indeed collaborated with — but I think G has something else going for him. Up until recently, G and his team have made all these things happen without the support of label. Now that they’ve got that under their belt, who knows what they’re capable of? For one thing, here’s hoping one of those things is overcoming a stigma that, from my perspective, is pretty irrelevant.
Regardless: With the help of Jay Ant, G-Eazy packed meaning into those catchy four words from the chorus of “Far Alone” by shouting “Now I’m here bitch!” into the mic, and wrapped up his set with purpose. Encore performances of “I Mean It” and “Loaded” only further drove this message home. Sure, the confetti that rained down in the music hall as the night came to its end helped.
But as G-Eazy takes his career from the Bay Area to the rest of the universe, one thing seems certain: Though the South Side Music Hall was the “here” G-Eazy referenced literally on this night, his future stops — literally and metaphorically alike — seem destined to only become bigger.
All photos by Mikel Galicia.