Some music venues are so amazing in their own right that you will attend almost any performance on their calendar just to enjoy that space again. The Sayers Club in Hollywood is one of those venues. As soon as you walk through the door, you’re greeted by a small, slightly crowded bar with banquette seating. After slithering through this room and down a short hallway, you immediately enter an intimate yet open back room with a small stage that’s only a step higher than the rest of the space. This room, with its Chesterfield sofas and wall length bar, was where Red Bull Sound Select artists, OSHUN, and Atlanta phenom, Raury, performed on the 23rd day of Red Bull’s 30 Days in LA series.
After a decent amount of the crowd made their way into the back room, DC-natives turned Brooklyn transplants, Niambi Sala and Thandiwe – better known as OSHUN – strode onto the stage barefoot, with sage smudge bundles and burning incense in hand. After cleansing the space, they launched into a confident performance of tracks from their debut ep, AFAHYE, and debuted tracks from their upcoming release, ASASE YAA. The duo masterfully blended hip-hop and neo-soul with healthy heaps of spiritual and social upliftment; with their sound being best described as a nice mélange of Lauryn Hill and Floetry. Although Niambi and Thandiwe are both equally talented MCs and singers, they are each other’s yin and yang on stage – playing off of each other vocally and feeding off of each other’s energy. As only college sophomores, these women already give a powerful and sprightly performance. It will be amazing to see how this translates as they continue on this musical journey together.
Without much delay or pause, a crew set the stage for the night’s headliner and rising star, Raury. With his band in place, Raury emerged onstage with bright lights and the spirit of a rock star. With his guitarist strumming vigorously and chants coming through the speakers, Raury grabbed the mic and launched into “Revolution” – his call out of various societal ills. Starting the performance with this track was no coincidence. Raury wanted to set the pace for the night and get right into why he’s here and creating this art. Throughout the show he would pause and have heart-to-hearts with the audience about music and what it means to him. He discussed how music affected his life and how he creates to change the lives of others. His love for and dedication to music was evident in his words, his voice, and his performance.
Perhaps the most wrenching sidebar came as he segued into the banger “Trap Tears.” This track was a response to the death of a friend from childhood that was heavily influenced and motivated by trap music and the lifestyle presented in it. The audience held onto every word; and although the catalyst and lyrics for the song were sad, it was impossible not to bounce once Raury jumped into the performance. He ended the night with the song that put him on the map – “God’s Whisper.” The audience was all in and, seemingly, did not want the night to end.
Watching him perform you could almost understand why Raury has regularly been compared to Andre 3000. Maybe it’s the southern drawl; maybe it’s the eclectic, boundary pushing flow. Although slightly reminiscent, Raury’s mix of hip-hop, folk, soul, hippy, and whatever-the-hell-else he feels like incorporating into his music, sets him apart from Andre 3000 and his peers. At the tender age of 19, he’s doing what he wants and people love it and are moved by it. He’s walking in his purpose.
Photos: Charde Kelly