LIVE: Zo! & Sy Smith, Drom, NYC

by Keya Maeesha

Photos: Joann Gomez/Music Looks Like This


When having discussions about music with my colleagues, we always talk about the various genres that seem to be able to thrive despite the changes in the economy. At the top of the list is Hip Hop (of course!). But right under there, sneaking its way to the hearts and ears of the music enthusiast is soul. Now, this isn’t to say that soul music is dead or it doesn’t hold a candle to hip hop. What it is saying though is that folks aren’t just listening to mainstream anymore. The good soul..the one you feel all in your spirit when you having a particular kind of day…that one that motivates you, makes you fall in love, become nostalgic of green grass and blue skies, allows you to…that kind of soul, you can’t find on the radio anymore. That one, you have to look for. Thanks to the good folks over at Rock Paper Soul, you don’t have to look to far.

Drom is becoming a very sought after venue for experiences such as the ones I previously described. Its intimate atmosphere that gives you a little bit of the juke joint feel, glazed with a new age soul is enough to make an avid music listener return for more. How awesome was it for them to host the Zo! and Sy Smith tour that stopped through NYC. People filled the venue in anticipation for the beauty that was about to be set forth. This night was about good music. The couples that hugged each other and shared intimate kisses in private corners as a thank you for evening. I even saw my good friend Ab (Aaron Abernathy who is a dope musician that you should be on the lookout for) in the audience coming to enjoy the evening. This was a good thing. As a matter of fact, it was a great thing.

Morris Alan opened the evening with an exceptional performance. His southern charm was eminent on stage. I love the vibe of his music. The very bluesy styled soul singer opened his set with “U Make Me Say” and continued wow the audience with many of his hits from his upcoming project. I enjoy his voice. He was an excellent opener for the evening. He closed his set with a remake of Lalah Hathaway’s “I’m Coming Back”. So with the stage set and the mood right, he introduced the next act for which he would provide background vocals for. Darien Dean took the microphone. The beautiful, caramel toned man with locs down to his back was captivating. His voice is very melodic and his energy is an excitement to the audience. Although his set was short, his songs called “Love Revolution” seemed to resonate most. He even hit a hip hop soul remix of the song for the heads in the audience. This evening was turning out to be another one of those dope nights in NYC that you can only experience live.

The stage set up began as the crowd began to wait patiently for Zo! and Sy Smith to take the stage. Folks anticipated the arrival of the magic that was about to come over the entire venue. “Nights Over Egypt” from Zo!’s “…just visiting too” was the opening performance. All you began to see where fans beginning to stand up and dance as if this was no longer a concert, it was a party. Sy’s voice was flawless on this song as she hits every single note like the ones on the album. They continued to party with the fans by performing  “Bruise”, “Driving”,  “Greatest Weapon of All Time”, “MakeLuv2Me”, “Aquarius Rising”, and “The Fast and The Curious”. The performance chemistry between Zo! and Sy are magnetic. The way that they are able to bring the audience in and keep them interested, as well as play all of the favorites its amazing. Zo! led the band in playing a tribute to the greatest house hits (I think at this point I lost all of my senses and moved from where I was sitting so I could get up and dance!). Sy crooned over the instrumentals and led the audience in a somewhat of a sing-a-long. There was not one person who attended this show that couldn’t feel the amazing aura.

Good soul music is hard to come by. I think Zo! and Sy Smith together is a receipe for musical dominance. Make sure you follow them on their Rock Paper Soul tour around the states. Its definitely not one to miss.

Special thanks to Joann Gomez from Music Looks Like This for the amazing photos. Make sure you check out her site here and follow her on twitter @MLLTPhotos.

  • B. Williams

    It was great playing behind Sy & Zo!

    • Keya

      You were absolutely amazing! I couldn’t remember your name to add you in the post. Next time…I got you ;)

  • The818hbk

    Man, I cant believe you forgot to mention or didnt realize that Sy was playing keyboard bass throughout the entire show!!!! Let’s see, she sang everything, she played on every song, and had the audience with her. I don’t understand how that was left out seeing as though it was AWESOME!!! I say if Sy and Zo are in your city, if you aint dead, you need to be there… Real music, real artistry, and keyboard bass!!! YES!!! KEYBOARD BASS…  C’mon Keya… you gotta give it up for that… lol

    • Keya

      I feel what you are saying. Keep in mind that the pictures that are scrolling above the post show that she was playing the keys and singing throughout the whole show. I wanted to highlight her voice (is that so wrong?). I enjoy Sy. She knows that. I even talked about how FLAWLESS her voice is over the music. There was no slight or ill intention to leave out a full and complete breakdown of every single instrument and player and what they were doing on the show. Some things you can see from the pictures. Other parts…you kind of have to be there to experience ;) Nothing that I say would be able to fully express how I felt about that show or the music that was being performed. Whether it was Zo! doing the damn thing leading the band, or Sy looking absolutely gorgeous, styling on folks with her voice, and multi-tasking like a mutha effin champ on those keys. Absolutely nothing.

      I just like to give the folks something to think about and an overall feeling of what I experienced. My hope is that they are able to take from that and make sure they don’t miss the next time it comes around. Tis all :)

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