Image Courtesy of Brown Concert Agency, Joey Han, and Facebook.
Article by Andrew Javens
Daniel Caesar, RnB’s resident sadboi, will headline Spring Weekend 2019. To be honest, I initially find him an odd choice to top the characteristically happy, light, and fun weekend. His music is slow, smooth, and seems to derive its value from the intense care and precision of his writing. Slow, smooth, care, and precision: to the extent that Spring Weekend stands as Brown’s annual shrine to decadence and hedonism, Caesar’s work stands opposite to the party. But perhaps I have been missing something. The more I reflect on Caesar’s spot in the lineup, I cannot help but grow excited. Why? Caesar’s work—the smooth instrumentals, vulnerable voice, and painfully honest lyrics—drag us through the mud of our emotion. He drowns us in our own reflection, grinds us over the washboard, and leaves us out to dry in the moonlight. But like a pile of dirty laundry, we come out clean. Our dirt is suspended in the air of the concert, mixed with the smoke, and whisked away by the wind. I earlier found Caesar an odd choice because his music drips through speakers with the heaviness of honey. But I forgot to consider the inherent irony of such mass confrontations with heaviness. That is, when we rummage through our baggage and throw our woes to the wind, we empower ourselves. Though our strength, heavy becomes light. And coming out of Caesar’s set, we will see that weight is relative and honey is sweet.
We do not often find an artist as fun as Aminé. The Portland rapper has a special talent for packaging intensely emotional topics in a fun and flirty exterior. And to be honest, that fun and flirty packaging will be much welcomed— by me at least— as a break from the physical, mental, and emotional stress of life at Brown. Aminé’s music roots itself in playfulness. Blurring the line between sincere and insincere, his music gives us the space for our own projections. And by giving us the agency to choose at what level we engage with his work, Aminé gives us the freedom to live true to ourselves and what we need in that moment. It is also obvious that his music is rowdy as hell and will surely be good time to forget.
While her earlier work cemented her as the queen of the out-of-tune electric guitar and soft whispy vocals, Mitski has recently turned up the energy. She now even features horns on some tunes, breaking out of her previous mold. She blew up in 2018 after her album Be the Cowboy, expanding her audience beyond only “sad girls with black hair and septum piercings,” (Marian Chudnovsky, iMessage 3/26/19). In the music ether, the sort of nebulous space of what music is, I will say that I like Mitski’s music. Without a doubt, it is enjoyable and cathartic. But it seems to me that the aesthetic her music is born out of has its limits at soft yellow string lights and plushy comforters. Perhaps I am wrong, though. I have always wondered how an artist like Mitski can maintain forward momentum during shows, and I am excited to see her translate her work on to the big stage.
What I find amazing about Yaeji’s work is how she manages to string together common themes that transcend typical boundaries of identity. Blurring genres, cultures, and languages, the Queens-born Korean-American artist has figured out how to connect with audiences from everywhere. Through this, she has been an empowering figure for those of us who exist in the doorway between two rooms, feeling torn between the culture at home and the one of the society around us. Her music, a perfect balance of hiphop, pop, and trance, is also perfect for Spring Weekend. Yaeji has given us the gift of loving who we are, and I cannot wait to see her perform.
Coming hot off of her 2019 mixtape, Cry 4 Help, Kari Faux brings an energy to the mic that is weirdly calm. She just talks, neither too soft nor too loud, always just enough to hear. And while normally I would see this as a lack of dynamic range, she breaks the rules perfectly. By ignoring traditional use of dynamics, her words have an almost prophetic quality to them; we are just expected to listen to her gospel. But this does not stop at dynamics. Slipping and slipping around the beat, she masterfully controls time, stretching and shrinking it in a way that, again through its calmness, reflects the highest confidence. I am interested in how her style will translate on stage. How does she maintain forward momentum without the use of dynamics? However she does it, I trust her. Calmness is born out of confidence, and we find ourselves dangerously attracted to confidence.
What Cheer? Brigade
True to the Spring Weekend tradition, What Cheer? Brigade will again be opening the weekend. Through their tight lines, clean harmony, and upbeat feel, the 18-member brass band has an incredible ability to keep the party going. Their work draws inspiration from numerous places and cultures. Transitioning seamlessly between klezmer, latin, rock, and other genres, the Providence-based band takes us on a journey around the world. And, they’re local! You do not want to miss their face-melting brass, but be prepared to run face-first into a wall of sound.
Editor’s Note: We have recently been notified that Stefflon Don is being replaced at Spring Weekend by Kamaiyah. Andrew does not have any thoughts on Kamaiyah yet.