KAYTRANADA in Paradise?

Review by Bridget van Dorsten

Most recently made famous by his album 99.9% with features like Anderson .Paak, Vic Mensa and Little Dragon, KAYTRANADA, an up-and-coming producer and DJ from Montreal, rocked Paradise Rock Club on Saturday night. He nonchalantly walked on stage after the opening act, Lou Phelps, left the crowd hyped from one of the best opening sets I’ve ever heard. With no change to his table set-up and no extra lighting or visuals, KAYTRANADA started off with a dope mix that seamlessly led right into “TOGETHER.” He spun some of his own jams, like “GLOWED UP” and “GOT IT GOOD,” as well as songs he produced like Chance the Rapper’s “All Night,” but he also DJ’ed a lot of fresh mixes that I hadn’t heard.

With doors at 8:00, I showed up a little past opening to an already crowded dance floor at Paradise Rock Club, right down the street from Boston University. The lights beaming towards the audience revealed a crowd filled with college students, some of whom looked familiar from around Brown’s campus. Lou Phelps came on stage around 9:30 to get the crowd bumpin’ before KAYTRANADA came on at 10:30.

KAYTRANADA’s little brother and opener, Lou Phelps, is a rapper and producer. Personally, I never expect very much from the openers at concerts. In this case, I didn’t even look him up before the concert like I normally do. So, I was pleasantly surprised when he came out and absolutely killed it, weaving together tracks like “Shabba” by A$AP Ferg, and “Antidote” by Travis Scott, with the hypest of transitions. He also dropped a fly verse that was clearly practiced, considering how the beat had echoing vocals. After the rap, the two brothers dapped each other up as Phelps left the stage and the main act walked on; a brief exchange, which was the extent of KAYTRANADA’s entrance.

For his visuals, KAYTRANADA used the same LED display that Lou Phelps used. While Phelps used a montage of different “Welcome to Boston” signs, as well as an 80s-like montage of two women at the beach, KAYTRANADA used visuals inspired from his 99.9% album artwork. Working the table and nodding his head to the beat, KAYTRANADA’s album cover of a detailed, multi-eyed figure blinked and watched over the crowd.

The duration of the concert had a mixtape vibe. Like his new album 0.001%, the concert had the same uninterrupted flow his recent release exudes. Although the fluidity of the mix was killer, I’ll admit it was a bit disappointing that he didn’t really communicate with the audience. With few conversational interruptions in the set, it was hard to appreciate the quirky KAYTRANADA we see through music videos like “AT ALL,” featuring three female bodybuilders, and “LITE SPOTS,” where KAYTRANADA invents a dancing robot. But you could definitely see on his face that he was digging it. 

I think part of the reason he didn’t talk to the audience is because KAYTRANADA isn’t one of those “press play” DJ’s. He’s not necessarily mixing all new tracks that we’ve never heard, but he certainly is live mixing classic songs that we know and love. This quality helped make the concert 100%, or should I say 99.9%, worth making the trek to Boston. Artists that perform live and just press play or lip-sync, *cough* Fetty Wap at Spring Weekend, make it obvious they’re unoriginal, or one-hit wonders. But, I think KAYTRANADA has much more to offer the electronic/hip-hop world, and I’m stoked to see what new releases he’ll bless us with!