Genres can not only confine but also stifle innovation. Today, many musicians are discovering ingenious methods to transcend categorical boundaries. The second day of the Re:SET Concert Series at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland, recently strongly emphasized this notion.
The festival’s music lineup was undoubtedly a highlight, boasting a mix of established and emerging artists who graced the stage. The performances on June 17 showcased musicians that seamlessly blended sonic styles, akin to different realities colliding in the multiverse. The exceptional acts that took the spotlight included Fousheé, Toro Y Moi, James Blake, and Steve Lacy.
The music extravaganza commenced with singer-songwriter, and guitarist Fousheé. The dynamic performer from the Garden State would embody a yin and yang duality — vulnerable and powerful, simultaneously syrupy sweet and sandpaper gritty. The audience eagerly devoured each moment, whether it was her rendition of the soul ballad “Can’t Take My Eyes Off You,” originally sung by Frankie Valli in the ’60s, or her release from late last year, the fiery punk anthem “Stupid Bitch.”
Throughout the day, an air of optimism resonated within the youthful and exuberant crowd. Smiles were abundant, complemented by stylish summer fashion choices. With a cool Carolina demeanor, Chaz Bear, the creative genius behind Toro Y Moi, would be the second artist to take the stage.
Toro Y Moi has embarked on an ever-evolving musical journey, skillfully blending elements of funk, R&B, and psychedelia to create a captivating and multifaceted sound. Their exploration has resulted in a rich and diverse sonic palette. It was the deep grooves of Toro Y Moi’s synth-heavy tracks “The Difference,” “Laws of the Universe,” and “Rose Quartz” that enveloped fans and contributed to the vibrant and infectious energy of the day.
Watch the official music video for “Rose Quartz,” by Toro Y Moi on YouTube:
I must admit, I was uncertain where to direct my camera as the penultimate band made their way onto the stage and assumed their positions behind their instruments. Which of these individuals was James Blake? The reserved British musician doesn’t demand attention, yet fans were instantly mesmerized by his enchanting falsetto.
James Blake has been taking the world by storm since the release of his critically acclaimed self-titled album in 2011. The singer-songwriter and producer is renowned for his unique blend of electronic music, soulful vocals, and introspective lyrics. In addition to his solo work, Blake has collaborated with music icons such as Beyoncé, Kendrick Lamar, SZA, Rosalía, Bon Iver, and most recently, Metro Boomin on the Spider-Man: Across the Spider-Verse soundtrack.
Blake demonstrated his seamless versatility as a producer and musician throughout his performance. He effortlessly delivered the electronically atmospheric “Life Round Here,” the dubstep-club hybrid “CMYK,” a soulful rendition of Bill Withers’s “Hope She’ll Be Happier,” and the emotionally charged fan favorite “Retrograde.” As long as Blake continues to push boundaries, he is poised to establish himself as one of the most influential artists of his generation, doing so with a quiet yet impactful grace.
The setting sun aligned beautifully with the intricate stage reconfiguration for Steve Lacy. A colossal image of Lacy appeared on stacked LCD monitors. With his hands snugly tucked in the pockets of his overcoat, the gigantic video of Lacy locked eyes with the eagerly awaiting fans through his iconic wraparound goggles.
The audience erupted as the stage turned pitch black, and the evening’s headliner emerged from the shadows. A thick bass line reverberated as lights pierced the stage. The Compton, California native certainly knew how to make an entrance. Amid fanatical screams and chants of “Steve, Steve, Steve,” fans sang along as he performed “Buttons,” “N Side,” and “Infrunami.” He even performed “Infrunami” twice. “I’m going to do it like we just did it, but way louder…sing this like you’re in the car by yourself,” he announced, and the fans enthusiastically complied.
While Lacy needed no introduction, he humbly gave one anyway. “Nice to meet you. I go by the name Steve Lacy…I’m a guitar player turned producer turned solo artist. Some of you may know me from this beautiful band I’m a part of called The Internet,” he said.
Steve Lacy is carving his own lane, yet it’s difficult not to draw comparisons to another flamboyant singer with a far-reaching falsetto range and guitar prowess during his performance. Much like Prince, Lacy embodies the qualities of a multifaceted musician who creates music on his own terms. The outcome is a captivating fusion of funk, R&B, soul, synth-pop, jazz, and hip-hop.
Last year, Steve Lacy’s chart-topping hit “Bad Habit” dominated the airwaves. He would perform the song during his set, but more notably, he proved that he has staying power with an unforgettable performance. Lacy has earned a dedicated fan base savoring the moment and eagerly anticipating his next release.
Here are more photos of Steve Lacy performing on June 17 at the Re:SET Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion. All photos copyright and courtesy of Will Colbert.
And here are photos of Toro Y Moi performing on day 2 of the Re:SET Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
And here are more photos of Fousheé performing on day 2 of the Re:SET Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
And here are more photos of James Blake performing on day 2 of the Re:SET Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion.