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Words and Photos: Paris Williams / Matthew Ali / YNB 201 / Ricky Lake & Taifa / Scabb at AV Club

Paris Williams at AV Club. Photo by Aaron Rhodes.

Date: August 6, 2021

AV Club - Kansas City, MO

Have you ever attended three outdoor concerts back-to-back-to-back and the weather was nearly perfect for every one of them? This block party-style First Friday event at AV Club marked the beginning of one of the best weekends I've had in the last 18 months. Paris Williams headlined the show, performing music from his past two releases, as well as an unreleased track with Bloom Davis, to a crowd of roughly 50 friends, fellow artists, and vendors (Shuttlecock was invited to set up a table). His set this night was on par with (or arguably better than) his solo live debut last month at the Replay. Williams kept his cool as a train passed a couple dozen yards away, threw flowers to his fans during another song, and renewed his tradition of dancing amongst the crowd during his set-closer "Nola."

New Jersey rapper-singer Matthew Ali was one of three out-of-town acts who had either flown or roadtripped into town in coordination with Paris and his friend's brand Nonpax. Ali began by pulling his bright red sedan up to the stage and proceeded to perform his entire set from atop its roof. The majority of his set was spent performing potent party raps that tapped into a similar energy as everyone's favorite hard seltzer-slinging Houstonian. Ali slowed things down near the end of his time, softly singing along to a stirring tune of his called "Beautiful," penned as a tribute to his late grandmother. The song's beat was built with a prominent sample of Al Green's "Dream" (in a similar manner to Tyler, The Creator's "Are We Still Friends?") and saw Ali employing autotuned vocals (think Kanye West's delivery on "Only One"). Though most rappers and singer-songwriters resent those who compare them to another artist in their genre (let alone three -- apologies, Matthew), it was evident in Ali's performance that he may have the potential to craft more distinctive material in the near future.

Fellow Jerseyan YNB 201's set of post-cloud rap and Plug Type Beat tracks was also of exceptional quality -- the PA speakers were clipping for almost every song and it felt like the proper way of experiencing them, considering their brash nature. One song interpolated the chorus of The All-American Rejects' hit "Dirty Little Secret," essentially creating an upbeat trap remix of it, retaining all of its undeniable catchiness. Another song, "BonJovi," borrowed from the arena rock band's "Bad Medicine" (it's a Jersey thing, I guess). Early in his set, while coaxing fans closer to the stage, he remarked "COVID schmovid" and as misguided as that might sound, after a year and a half of top-down pressure from both the government and civilians alike, the moment brought a smile to my face (and felt perfectly on brand with the rapper's sleazy persona).

Bay Area duo Ricky Lake and Taifa were the first of the touring acts to perform, providing serviceable party rap with touches of R&B, psychedelia, and the West Coast hub's signature bounce.

Kansas City rapper and Manor Records crew member Scabb (Sam Hernandez) was the first to take the stage, just after the sun went down. While I wasn't moved by his debut EP, Nada, released this past November, Hernandez flaunted his skill as a live entertainer and the songs felt more at home in a breezy summer block party setting rather than at-desk-in-headphones.

DJs Wables and Squibs provided fun mixes early in the evening as the crowd first began to congregate.

Click here to view the full photo album.

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