So, first thing’s first. “XCII” is roman numeral for 92, the year in which Quinn XCII was born. As an amateur, I spelled it all out. Yup, that’s right. At his recent show at the Westcott Theater, I said, “I can’t wait to hear Quinn X-C-I-I” I knew it was repetitive and probably incorrect, but that was the only way I knew how to address him other than “the performer.” At least I figured it out eventually — halfway through the show.
I got to Wescott at 8:17, 43 minutes before showtime. I estimated 50 people already pressed up against the barricade, careful not to give any inch to the other VIP holders. General admission like the crowd around me, I stood patiently behind them dancing subtly and singing less subtly to the overhead music.
Side note, an interlude for appreciation: Shoutout to the behind-the-scenes crew at Wescott for matching the tone of the audience with their song choices. The crowd loved it and it set the scene for the performance, like an opener for the opener.
It took a little while, but moments before 9 PM, the crowd really started to file in. The night was kicked off with KOLAJ, a duo comprised of Teesa Houston on vocals and Mighty Mike McGarity on the turntables. Their repertoire only consists of five released singles, but it’s a start that proves that they’ve got potential. Their bandtronica was reminiscent of Clean Bandit and Kygo, but dressed up as Rihanna and Calvin Harris. I do have to say that I found it odd that they performed a song, 100 Degrees, that featured Quinn XCII without Quinn XCII, considering he was in the building. Part of me wishes we could have seen it performed live but, on the bright side, it was still a good performance.
Artists tend to open with one of their bigger hits, as KOLAJ did, but not typically their biggest. Which is why I was caught off guard when Quinn entered to “Another Day In Paradise.” That was his most popular song, so I wasn’t really sure what to expect next. The second most played song on his album? A new single? A cover?
He hit us with a couple more from his album and then surprised the crowd further with three skillful remixes. The house started rolling their bodies when “Bootleggin’” (my personal favorite) and “Ignition Remix” (a classic) was paired together. “Bootleggin’” being about the prohibition, he took an honorable swig of beer for all us underaged. Quinn continued seamlessly into the next one, an amalgamation of “New Wave” and Vance Joy’s “Riptide.” Aside me melting at this, I recognized that the tropical indie and soft electronic in this one song was pretty defining of his vibe as a whole. He’s a college mixtape sensation that’s paving his way into the music industry — something that’s youthful, genuine and close to home.
The crowd may have been in the hundreds, but their was an intimacy I felt, especially during New Wave/ Riptide, that evaporated the intensity of standing for hours and left jelly hips that swayed to rhythm. See, even though I may not have known how to pronounce his stage name or all the words to his songs, I, along with the rest of the crowd, was definitely engaged in an almost personal relationship with Quinn during the show. I mean, we’re already on a first name basis, right?
And the most skillful and profound of all, there was a “Cash Me Outside” Remix in which Quinn’s drummer and keyboardist stepped alongside him, spraying water over the crowd. Iconic.
He did a single-song encore that left the crowd tired from jumping around, sweaty from the tight proximity of the audience, and with sore throats from singing to the words. We couldn’t have asked for anything more.