This past Friday night, Jhene Aiko's Enter The Void Tour made its stop at the Electric Factory in Philadelphia, PA. There was a long line of fans wrapped around every corner of the venue just waiting for the doors to open in anticipation for this souled out concert. Willow Smith kicked off the show by surprising everyone with how much she has grown as an artist over the past couple of years. For many of us, the last we heard from her was the radio hit "Whip My Hair" that took the kid world by storm in 2010... But since then, she has been into creating much more slower-tempoed, mature music. After performing a few songs, she finished off her set with a remixed version of "Whip My Hair" that was more aligned with her current style of music. This girl has crazy good vocals and an obvious talent for creating and owning her image as an artist — she's most definitely one to keep your eye on.
The following act was The Internet; a band consisting of Odd Future members. As the lead singer, Syd The Kyd, approached the microphone, she kicked off her shoes before she began her performance. This was one of those, "actions speak louder" moments, as she was basically saying that she'd prefer to be comfortable and chill without actually saying it. Some of The Internet's music is uptempo and all of it is what I'd consider to be "feel-good" soul. Their second album released in 2013 was titled, "Feel Good"... By no coincidence, I'm sure.
Next up was SZA, the Top Dawg Entertainment recording artist whose music has become a must-listen to this year. She opened her set with "Ur" from her most recently released album, Z. SZA brought real energy to the stage with her powerful voice, magical hair and a quick twerking break to "Coco" by O.T. Genasis. Despite an apparent illness and suffering from an asthma attack in the midst of her set, she continued to push through and deliver good music like a real G. (Very happy to learn that she's okay!)
The opening performances were a great way start the night, especially for those who hadn't been previously exposed to these artists..... But we couldn't wait for Jhene Aiko to come out and vibe with us for the rest of the night.
Jhene began by sitting indian-style on stage with pillows and candles surrounding her as she sang the first verse of "Limbo, Limbo, Limbo." She was dressed in a gray maxi skirt, black tights, New Balance sneakers, a marijuana tank top and a plaid shirt tied around her waist -- totally appropriate attire for a Friday night, chilling with your soul mates.
Throughout the evening she performed the perfect set of songs coming from Sailing Soul(s), Sail Out, Souled Out and even "From Time" that was on Drake's NWTS and an acoustic version of "Drunk Texting" from Chris Brown's X album. Jhene turned into J. Hennessey, her alter ego, when it was time to spit the rap verses in her songs (she has Kendrick Lamar's flow in "Stay Ready" down pat) and she maintained her sweet angelic voice the entire time as she sang her heart out to the crowd.
From "Do Better Blues" and "Mirrors" to "The Worst" and "W.A.Y.S." then an unexpected encore of "Space Jam", she prepared all of my personal favorites and I couldn't have been more satisfied with night. With being in a rather small venue, the concert was intimate and I think that was something everyone in attendance appreciated. I caught myself singing every song word for word, along with hundreds other people, and began to realize that this is why Jhene refers to her fans as her "soul mates." We really f*ck with her and her music because we can relate to her and feel what she's saying. By simply expressing herself, she put something positive and beautiful into the universe that made it impossible for us to not fall in love with her.
Jhene said how she doesn't worry about putting on the best circus-like show with all the glitz and glamour for entertainment... Her reason for having shows and making music is to share her stories and to vent to those who want to listen. For that, Jhene Aiko is a timeless artist and performer. People aren't focused on what she's wearing, how she dances, her hairstyle, who she's dating, etc... But on what she's actually saying and creating. She puts her heart and soul into her work, and that is what has become the main focus of her career as a, now Grammy-nominated, musician.
I know of many people who were disappointed that they missed out on attending this concert.... So if you can prevent it, don't be that person. Check out this website for the remaining dates and locations of the Enter The Void Tour.
(Special thanks to Morgan [PhoByMo] for the photos. View more of her amazing work here.)
[these things take time.] the poetry book available on amazon.com.