Two subgroups of University of Pennsylvania’s Social Planningand Events Committee (SPEC) collaborated to bring Kaytranada to Philadelphia to open for the Underachievers on Jan 31.
Kaytranada, the Haitian-born instrumental Hip-Hop artist and producer from Montreal, also known as Kevin Celestin, officially falls into the electronic genre, but his live work proves difficult to confine to any particular brand.
SPEC sold approximately 250 tickets in advance and filled the out the Rotunda, a relaxed standing room venue that holds 325 people, within the first hour after doors opened.
It was clear that Kaytranada had come prepared before taking the stage. His economic blend of Hip-Hop and R&B including even a mix of classic and original tracks kept the audience engaged and enthralled.
The hip-hop influences were deep. The audience was treated to remixes of popular songs including “If” by Janet Jackson and G.Dep’s “Special Delivery. Interlacing a remix of Queen’s “Another One Bites the Dust” between them may sound like a problematic decision, but Kaytranada blended the two sounds together in a way that was accessible and inclusive to even the most occasional hip hop fans.
There was truly something for everyone, and that’s what made Kaytranada’s set so infectious. Kaytranada presented a seamless and well-proportioned flow of hip-hop trap beats, R&B grooves, techno, nu-disco and even a little reggae. It was difficult for anyone to stay off the dance floor for too long. Hand dancers, hip swingers and b-boys who were itching to breakdance, might have busted a couple of windmills if given the elbowroom and a slab of cardboard to spin on,
shared the venue.
Kaytranada takes the microphone to chat with the crowd between
songs at a performance in University City. Kaytranada’s danceable
mix of Hip-Hop, R&B and Nu-Disco hooked a sold out crowd on Jan 31.
Photo by Serigne Faye
The control Kaytranada had over the crowd made it hard not to get involved. Fans of his music were pleased to hear familiar Kaytranada tracks such as “Hilarity Duff,” “At All,” and tracks from his 2013 EP Kaytra Todo such as “Kill Cats” and “Holy Hole Inna Donut.”Kaytranada’s performance come alive. After only an hour or so in his set, the place looked and felt more like a nightclub than a show.The atmosphere of the Rotunda was small, relaxed and intimate, which helped Kaytranada’s performance come alive. After only an hour or so in his set, the place looked and felt more like a nightclub than a show.
When the place was most energized, Kaytranada paced the Rotunda with a lo-fi remix of Mteme’s “Juicy Fruit” (to which everyone unanimously chimed in spitting the opening verse of Notorious BIG’s “Juicy”). And when hand counts were low, he aroused the room with the irresistibly familiar opening snare hits of the Bell Biv Devoe classic “Poison.”
The sound was just shy of overwhelming. The bass was so thick, the bathroom mirrors vibrated like a phone with an incoming call.
The lighting didn’t add much. The filters beamed out unsynchronized psychedelic flowers that scanned the walls seemed odd and distracted from the overall performance.
All in all, Kaytranada was in top form and had the crowd under his spell for the better part of the night. The atmosphere alone made for a great time, but being part of the live performance, especially on the receiving end of that conversation he has with the audience, made it well worth the $10 admission ($5 for Penn Students).
This, along with a stop in Quebec, will be his was Kaytranada’s final show in North America until April. After a stop in Quebec he is scheduled to start
the next leg of his tour in Germany.