Live Review: D.R.A.M. with Seattle Rock Orchestra & The Flavr Blue at Neumos 12/12/16

all photos by Brittany Feenstra

When given the chance to introduce himself, Scott Teske of the Seattle Rock Orchestra had a pretty straightforward agenda at Monday night’s Neumos show. “We just like music”, he laughed, jostling his bass, “and we like this crazy collaborations”. Crazy collaboration does not begin to describe the magic that happened tonight thanks to tech god Google and social impact brand GOOD. The two have partnered this month for GOODFest, a “festival” of five separate shows in five different cities with 100% of proceeds going to benefit five different causes. Following a Gogol Bordello show in New Orleans benefitting the Equal Justice Initiative, and preceding a Solange show in Oakland benefitting the Ella Baker Center, tonight, we have up and coming hip-hop star D.R.A.M., bringing the vibes in benefit of local climate justice initiative 350 Seattle. Those who couldn’t make it out to the show tonight can actually watch the whole thing over at the GOOD Facebook. That being said, they definitely missed out on some action. With the SRO backing D.R.A.M. and his band, this was a one-of-a-kind collaboration for the books. Burning through a short but effective set, D.R.A.M. made his headlining debut in Seattle a special one. Together with an opening set from local electronic act The Flavr Blue (also with the SRO), GOODFest’s Seattle date was a winner.

It’s no surprise that The Flavr Blue were selected as tonight’s local pairing with D.R.A.M. As more time passes, The Flavr Blue only seem to be more apt to kick off any party with a bang. The band’s formidable frontwoman Hollis Wong-Wear also emceed the whole evening, keeping the vibes up, introducing all the acts as well as having a short dialogue with 350 Seattle about what we can do to impact climate justice in our everyday lives. The Flavr Blue had a short slot on the schedule – a brief two songs before D.R.A.M. was set to take the stage. But even with limited time, the band went for maximum impact. Starting with “We Can Go Blind“, Hollis took front and center as Lace and Parker dueled guitars behind, backed with the SRO filling out the rhythm and bass gleefully. With as few opportunities as Scott Teske must get to hook that stand up bass to a subwoofer, it was sure fun hearing that thing shake the bottom of the stage with every pluck. Lace and Parker ditched instruments for a yet unreleased Sweater Beats collaboration (following this year’s “Wit It“), where the three all rotated on vocals and got the party started proper. Brief as it was, The Flavr Blue’s appearance tonight was well deserved and well executed – Hollis and her band know how to get the night started right.

The Flavr Blue:

Virginia rapper D.R.A.M. may still be making his way into the daily hip-hop lexicon, but one look at the video for “Cash Machine” or “Broccoli“, and it’s impossible not to fall in love with the guy. The joy and euphoria surrounding him is just infectious. It’s this attitude that brought him into view for Chance the Rapper, who featured D.R.A.M. on 2016 album Coloring Book, in a track aptly titled “D.R.A.M. Sings Special”, where D.R.A.M. just tells you you are very special. Who doesn’t want to be told they are special by D.R.A.M., honestly? Furthermore, who doesn’t want to hear that magic in person? For these and many more reasons, D.R.A.M.’s headlining debut in Seattle is at high time, and tonight’s show saw the rising star bringing 100% of his potential.

D.R.A.M. didn’t play more than eight or nine songs, but what was lacking in set time was made up for in content. He opened the night with “Cash Machine”, but this time, backed by fluttering strings and whimsical brass. The live instrumentation seems right at home. After all, D.R.A.M. utilized the talents of Nico Segal and the Social Experiment (who made Surf with Chance the Rapper) on his last two releases. The vibrant arrangements make the whole thing feel like springtime, especially when D.R.A.M. breaks into crooner “Sweet VA Breeze” and the like. The mood of the night is party-centric, no doubt, but it’s also unbelievably contented. Here in the room with D.R.A.M., there’s nobody lacking in the special department, who can’t go out and make their dreams happen if they work at it. D.R.A.M. says as much before breakout hits “Cha Cha” and “Broccoli”, remarking about sleeping on his cousin’s couch before getting the motivation to make something he’d be proud of. Well, with Big Baby, he’s made it, and nobody can take it away from him. Or from Scott Teske, or from Hollis Wong-Wear, or the SRO or the Flavr Blue. It’s the nights like this, lush with instrumentation, talent, and common goals to gather around, that we can really feels the joys of the music community. Thanks for that D.R.A.M.

D.R.A.M.

Big Baby D.R.A.M. is out now on Atlantic.

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