Goldstein Auditorium opened its doors on Friday night to host reggae “sing-jay” Koffee, hip hop artist Duckwrth, and local DJ and producer Troyce Pitones. It was this year’s first event within the Bandersnatch Concert Series, put on by University Union, and while the turnout was modest, the small yet enthusiastic crowd made the concert undeniably intimate.
Troyce Pitones opened the show with a DJ set comprised mainly of American hip-hop and rap songs from the last five years. Though he did mix it up with R&B/Neo-Soul with Ari Lennox’s “BMO,” and brought a taste of his home in the UK with British rapper Skepta’s “Greaze Mode.”
Pitones, who is a student in Syracuse’s Bandier program, recently began producing, saying, “it’s harder nowadays to make a name as a pure DJ.” He is currently working on Troyce Pitones Beat Tape Volume 2.
The crowd, which had trickled in throughout the course of Pitones’s performance, picked up energy as the songs picked up their tempo. By the end of the set, audience members were dancing along and ready to keep the party going with Duckwrth about to take the stage. He began his set with his 2018 single for the Spider Man: Into the Spider-Verse soundtrack, “Start a Riot.”
Hailing from South-Central LA, Duckwrth brings something unique to the hip-hop scene: honesty about topics not often dealt with in his genre of music. He’s spoken about his religious upbringing on “Soprano.” In “Love is Like a Mosh Pit” and “Crush,” he tackles the multiple sides of love. The former speaks to the difficult, push-and-pull nature of love, while the latter highlights how “love” can actually just be a moment of lust.
But like any artist with a really good stage presence, his songs sound better– more openly raw and hard-hitting– when performed live. He dances, gets the crowd jumping with him, and knows how to work a mic stand. When he spilled an entire water bottle on stage at the end of “Nobody Falls,” and the hazard was mopped up, he entertained the crowd by changing up the song’s lyrics for an impromptu a capella version: “Nobody Falls on Stage.”
The rest of the performance saw Duckwrth share a conversation he had with Nipsey Hussle, while showing off a Syracuse Basketball crewneck sweatshirt he bought on Marshall St. He sounds almost like a freshman after their first trip to Manny’s and Shirt World, marveling over the huge selection of merch available. Although he eventually had to take the crewneck off to avoid overheating, his determination to keep repping Syracuse for as long as he could is a testament to the value he places on connecting with his audience. He closed out with “Michuul” and “Fall Back,” which got the crowd running to the open space in the back of the auditorium to give themselves more space to dance.
DJ Pee Wee, who came on stage to support Koffee, played a short set to transition the audience from Duckwrth and Pitones’s hip-hop into the reggaeton sounds of Koffee. By the time she walked out singing “Rapture,” the mood had gone from wildly jumping around to swaying along to the addictive rhythms.
The nineteen-year-old from Spanish Town, Jamaica, has seen her career skyrocket since her breakout song, “Burning,” in 2017. Although she’s certainly younger than some of her audience, she’s already gotten to collaborate and perform with several major artists both in and out of the reggaeton genre. Most recently she worked with Daniel Caesar for the “Cyanide Remix,” which dropped on Sept. 30.
Koffee, in particular, capitalized on the small audience at Goldstein with a particularly interactive set. She added “Syracuse” into the lyrics of her songs as she performed tracks from her first EP– which was released this year in March– and “Burning.”
For her final song, “Toast,” she came down into the pit to stand at the barricade and sing from almost inside the audience. Returning to the main stage, she and a pair of backup dancers taught the crowd a Jamaican dance that “works with any song” to the beat of “Toast,” and invited people to try it for themselves as they played the chorus of the song again. The crowd roared in excitement when they got the dance right, and the show closed with everyone dancing together.
Find more photos at our gallery by Athena Myers: http://20wattsmag.com/2019/10/bandersnatch-gallery/