Standing center row in the nearly 500-capacity crowd at the Cannery Ballroom in Nashville, TN, for a Hoodie Allen show, Kentucky college students Amanda Smith and Elizabeth Gilvin had some cake and ate it too, thanks to the rapper. “Oh, yeah,” Smith said. “The cake taste good. It was funfetti.” The two fans licked the cake from their fingers immediately after Steven Markowitz, better known as Hoodie Allen, threw dessert at their and other fans’ faces while performing Cake Boy off his latest album Crew Cuts. I guess when the rapper announced, “We’re going to do a quick costume change on stage,” and the band quickly dressed him in a chef’s jacket and hat—not to mention the song’s title—that should’ve given them a hint of what was to come flying.
While the majority watched the show through their cell phones—filming the drum battles, a crowd surf and renditions of popular rap songs the psyched crowd also seemed to embrace Hoodie’s three opening acts: D-WHY, MOD SUN, and OCD: Moosh & Twist. As an unsigned artist with no affiliation to a record label, Hoodie exclaimed, “I have no one to tell me what to do on a political basis. I have three artists who are fucking awesome.”
Beginning at 8:00 p.m., those openers blended into the show—nothing out of the ordinary or out of place. The energy never dropped, and actually spiked from performer to performer and fed to the crowd. Coming off stage from his high jumps, raps and yells, D-WHY, who is from West Virginia, thanked Hoodie for the opportunity, as he said he connected with the indie artist more than a year ago. As he described the great sound, fans lined up to take pictures with him and deejay, Etrayn.
Next up was rap duo DeQuincy “Moosh” Coleman McRae and Oliver “Twist” Feighan, better known by their performance name, OCD: Moosh & Twist. Friends since childhood while growing up Philadelphia, the two brought the brotherly love to Music City, USA, as they put forth a fresh perspective in raps of optimism from their fourth mixtape, Back to the Basement. Appropriatly, their mixtape hints at their beginnings, rapping in the basement of their school as seventh graders. Much like D-WHY, the rappers energized hyped fans as they performed Possibilities.
Quickly, MOD SUN (“Movement On Dreams Stand under None” and/or “Modern Sunshine”) seized the Cannery and emitted his rainbow rays of liveliness. The artist pumped the crowd with his praises about free love. One crowd member even gained a new tie-dye shirt from the self branded “hippie hop” artist. “Everybody in this room is a friend of mine, right?!” MOD SUN asked. The crowd answered in screams as he hurled down the microphone when he finished bobbing his head to sit in a meditation pose. His guitarist vocalized as well. As soon as the audience thought MOD SUN’s performance reached its end, the positive musician burst into a beat of raps, surprising the crowd and leaving them speechless. At 9:33 p.m., he yelled for “Hoodie Time” and embraced fans hands before exiting stage.
Starting at 10:00 p.m., Hoodie Allen gifted us a nice mix of old and new. “The Hoodie Mob” is the moniker for his rabid fans, many of whom traveled from as far as St. Louis to see Markowitz perform on this Nashville stop, part of the “Party with Your Friends” tour. A majority lifted their hands to say “Yes!” when Hoodie asked if the Tuesday show was their first time seeing a live concert featuring him. “Awww, well, thanks for letting me be your first!” Hoodie cracked. The New York native opened his set to You Are Not a Robot, a single that garnered him No. 1 status on Hype Machine, an aggregator that collects the most-blogged about music globally. He then chilled down (and escaped to the back of the bar for a sec) with acoustic versions of Moon Bounce and Justin Timberlake’s Cry Me a River, and then sped up with his highly anticipated No Faith in Brooklyn. “Why I’ve waited so long to play here, I have no idea,” Hoodie said after crowd surfing on top of a swim floater. “I haven’t played here before. That was awesome. Thanks for changing my life.” At the end, the opening acts joined Hoodie and started throwing water from thin plastic bottles at the crowd, everything morphing into a rave-like vibe.
What’s up Hoodie’s sleeve next? A new album that will be released the beginning of 2014.
Words and photos by Natasha A. Simmons