As the son of an opera singer and self-proclaimed fan of artists ranging from MF DOOM to The National, rising artist Bartees Strange is no stranger to various genres. So it makes sense that his set at Memorial Union Terrace on September 12 was somewhat of a melting pot of different musical elements, from rock to folk to rap, which was perfect – there was something in store. for everyone.
Strange’s set followed Ganser, a Chicago band who requisitioned the stage with powerful basslines and confident lyrics. As Ganser’s set culminated with a performance of “Lucky,” the sun began to set over Lake Mendota, creating the perfect backdrop for Strange to take the stage.
After taking the stage with one of his sweetest songs, Strange took things up a notch with “Mustang,” a high-energy track and one of his strongest assets. Drummer Jordyn Blakely carried the band through Strange’s heaviest tracks, like this one, serving as the backbone of the band’s incredible coordination. While the mostly seated crowd – it would have suited better at a cafe – didn’t quite match the energy of Strange’s punk tunes, the band nonetheless captivated everyone, especially thanks to Strange’s incredible vocals. . He didn’t miss a single note.
Throughout the set, Strange bounced back and forth between genres, moving from indie rock to R&B. “Kelly Rowland” particularly stood out, merging a creative rap beat with an intricate guitar line and lyrics sung and rapped with haunting cadence – “You won’t leave the cradle, you’ll miss the strange wave”. While his heaviest songs were arguably the most memorable, hearing those slower tracks felt like Strange was finally meeting the audience at his own energy level, which was perfect for such a busy night on the patio.
After Strange closed his set with “Boomer,” a celebration of individuality but an anthem of angst, he then wrapped it all up with a quick recall at the request of the audience. It had started to rain, although people were showing no signs of paying attention and finally got up to enjoy the band’s music.
While Strange left with a broken guitar string and many of us in slightly soggy clothes, in the end we also left with a new favorite live artist. Rarely do musicians sound better live than on recordings, but that’s exactly what happened during Strange’s set at the Terrace.
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