The Beatles may have made girls shout so loud at concerts that you couldn’t hear the music, but Saul Williams is one of the few performers who can walk on a stage and get a screaming crowd to silence itself as he projects sans microphone. He did this last night for his opening monologue at the El Rey.
After the show was about three songs in Williams addressed the audience members, asking them to feel and move instead of just watch, joking that if the viewers wished to be passive, they could watch him on YouTube. Later on he inquired again why people weren’t moving asking, “Do we look strange?” and someone in the crowd shouted a mumbled reply. “Oh is that what it is? Innocence?” said Williams. “No, I said industry!” shouted back the audience member. After that point everyone was moving and shaking, so much so that for “List Of Demands (Reparations),” his last song before the encore, Williams came into the audience and moshed with the sweaty bodies as he sang.
Right before he joined the collective, Williams started rambling about the truth in rebellion. Some parts were prophetic, some were a hot mess, but everyone in the audience felt a strong energy of joy while he connected with them on this basic oral level, responding directly to things shouted by singular members of the mass. At the show’s after party Williams made sure to talk to the small number of fans who were able to stick around. He shared some additional wisdom and even gave out a few hugs.
Photos by Annie Lesser