Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Emily King and Jesse Boykins III - Live at 92YTriBeCa

While sitting in the dark among the crowd of 20 somethings at 92YTribeca, I became increasingly excited to hear Jesse Boykins III and Emily King perform – after all, what better way to spend a Friday night in New York City than with great musicians?  I should definitely spend more of my nights listening to smooth soul and bangin’ bands, but my excuse is that I am a broke college kid.  Fortunately for me, my friend Paris won two tickets for King and Boykins’ 9 PM live show on February 4, and this is my review. 

I entered the venue, took a seat at a free table, and vibed to the familiar sounds of Common playing on the speakers.  Paris pointed out that we were actually seated right behind King’s mother and family, who became more and more lively as the night progressed.  And as the hour drew closer to show time, the dimly lit space became more filled with young professionals and artistic types networking and chattering. 

Then, The Beauty Created, Boykins’ band, introduced him onstage. Of the ten songs Jesse Boykins III & The Beauty Created performed, I enjoyed “Itis” the most.  “Amorous” and “Before the Night is Through" were also personal and audience favorites. 

The best part of the songs, as well as the show, was the band.  The players were definitely on their “A” game, and no song could go wrong with such hot instrumental intros and solos.  For me, trumpeter Marion "OJ" Ross was the star of the band.  He kept producing these extraordinarily funky, synthy sounds with his trumpet via foot pedals.  The technical aspect is unknown to me; the result is a new appreciation for a certain cute trumpeter with dreads! 

Another high note of the show was Boykins’ connection with the audience.  He danced freely on stage, led the audience in several sing-a-longs, and even invited a woman of interest to sing to and dance with onstage during “Pantyhose.”  He also  shared the personal and comic story behind “Come to my Room,” which was inspired by a failed attempt at luring a high school crush into his bedroom. 

About 30 minutes after Boykins and his band left the stage, King and her band proceeded to play.  I must admit, I was falling asleep by this time.  But I did wake up to hear the relatively short performance King gave. She sang a few covers, including Michael Jackson’s “Shake Your Body.”  And she sang 9 or 10 rather condensed versions of her own compositions, such as “Ever After” and “It Was You.”

King had a likeable stage presence.  She made a few jokes and kept the audience moving to her music.  Most of the songs, especially her new single, “Radio,” had a soulful and slightly psychedelic feel, which was surprisingly nice;  and since I was already tired, it almost lulled me to sleep (in a good way).

Though King has good music and a pretty voice, both her music and her voice lack depth and character.  The sort of music that she sings calls for a vocal expression of pain, passion, sorrow, etc.  And on this night, her music was surely lacking these qualities.

All-in-all, I really enjoyed the music that some of New York City's young and talented musicians presented.  So much, that I have added music by Jesse Boykins III & The Beauty Created to my personal collection.

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