Boston Comes Out for Syd (Royale 10/11)

It was all too appropriate that the Boston tour date for Syd fell on October 11th – aka Coming Out Day. The singer self identifies as gay and has been publicly out of the closet since releasing The Internet’s “Cocaine” video, but I don’t think that there is any queer branding to her songwriting – and that’s refreshing. Often times there seems to be a certain amount of queer credibility demanded from artists or utilization of elements of gay culture for profit and audience. Sometimes that can take the spotlight, which is what Syd actively avoids in her building of image and songwriting. That doesn’t mean there is any pronoun switching or holding back; her sexuality is just one facet of her lived experience. Clearly that’s more than enough to connect with the masses but to also build a community around her music – there were so many queer POC in the crowd I almost forgot we were in Boston for a hot second.

The artist’s voice is so sweet, pure, and light that you almost forget that the DJ has only been a singer for about six years. Syd’s live delivery is a very similar experience to what you receive on her record Fin; the sultry R&B tracks feature enough vocal control to make some of the most established artists jealous. On stage she is just as cocky as her own music demands her to be, songs like “Dollar Bills” and “Body” certainly necessitate an energy that must be as empowering as it is demanding. She didn’t say much between songs but acknowledged that her swagger on stage is a public persona, a distance from what she struggles with in private.

This was the third date of the Always Never Home tour, supporting the February release of Fin and the Royale show was opened by Kitty Cash and Kari Faux. It’s altogether possible that you are already familiar with the ladies’ work without even knowing it. Kitty Cash, who mixed her own set and continued behind the table for Kari Faux, established herself as a DJ with Kilo Kish, opened for Skrillex, and her mixtapes boast all sorts of high profile names, including Solange, Willow Smith, and Vic Mensa. She’s masterful at interacting with a crowd – DJ sets as openers for a non-DJ headliner can be a tough sell – but nothing about the artist’s set felt at all forced. Her series of mixtapes, Love the Free Vol. I-III, showcase an up and coming artist whose beat work is a cohesive, thoughtful journey with an ear for a wide range of talent – ranging from larger gets to those yet to be discovered. Catch her touring with Jhene Aiko later in the fall.

Whoever has been doing the music supervision for HBO’s Insecure deserves a round of applause. Kari Faux is one of a multitude of artists whose music has been featured on the show, including SZA and Kelela. Her songs “No Small Talk,” “Top Down,” and “Lowkey” have appeared on Issa Rae‘s show and if you haven’t heard them live, you haven’t fully experienced them fully. The artist’s live show takes the tracks to a full-realization of their potential. Kitty Cash at the helm added additional elements to the night’s mixes that spotlighted Kari’s vocal ability and bravado. It made you feel bad for anyone who slept on buying tickets to the sold out show. In case you still can’t figure out where you’ve heard Kari Faux’s voice before – she was on Childish Gambino’s track “Zombies” and Matt Martians’ “Can’t Spend the Night.” The latter is one of the founding members of Odd Future and Syd’s collaborator for the Internet; the producer also has served as the producer for several Kilo Kish tracks. This tour has clearly been keeping it all in the family and there are no complaints here.