How many articles have you read this year that began with a reminder of what we already know about the state of the world? Sure, it may be done cleverly or getting at a larger purpose, but even me, someone who has included the COVID-19 pandemic in his writing, is tired. So I’ll say it another way without being so direct: I fucking miss live music so much. The overpriced drinks. The eardrum-pulsating audio. Making random friends who offer sandwiches (How I Met Your Mother gang knows what I mean). Then there are the exceptional bands that help artists create an immersive experience through their live arrangements.
They deserve endless flowers. Here, we give them to 6LACK and his band, along with a few friends and labelmates who made the December 1st More Than Tequila Music Series sponsored by Patrón all the more special. This was the second edition, following October 20th’s inaugural event headlined by Rapsody with support from Deanté Hitchcock, GQ, and Cyanca.
I, unfortunately, missed the pre-show, but The East Atlanta artist opened the main event explaining its purpose and how the proceeds will go to the NAACP. Then the fun began with Mereba’s peaceful presence, Alabama charm, and warm voice. She’s a talent that feels like the world still hasn’t fully opened their eyes and ears to, but we’re hip on this side.
It was a treat seeing her on the flyer, and even better to hear “Highway 10,” “Sandstorm,” and “Stay Tru” in that setting. She never wastes a note, seated in front of a piano and giving her all to the microphone. She was the ideal opener, showing the type of enthusiasm and grace that would have you thinking a crowd was present. Southern hospitality is real, regardless of you being in their face or behind a screen.
Next, Kitty Cash jumped on the ones and twos for a set that made me forget I was in my bedroom. One of my favorite tactics used by DJs is seamlessly mashing up two songs that you may not have even considered working together. She gave us Aaliyah’s timeless “Rock The Boat” vocals mixed with Rihanna’s “Work” beat before completely leaving Earth and throwing together Meek Mill and Drake’s “Going Bad” production, the dance floor-shaking drum loop from Cali Swag District’s “Teach Me How To Dougie” and the brooding “Plain Jane” bars by none other than A$AP Ferg. This was just the beginning of the set. What a start. You have to listen to truly understand what she did.
We got some other jams like Megan Thee Stallion’s catchy new track “Body,” the empowering City Girls anthem “Pussy Talk” (a personal favorite), and the classic “Blow The Whistle” by Too Short. It was especially pleasing hearing Kitty spin WizKid’s “Essence,” a song that is already very loved with the recent release of Made In Lagos and surely would be highly impactful under normal circum — nevermind, sorry. Shoutout to Tems as well. Kitty Cash, I’ll be contacting you come wedding time. That aux game is imperative.
The energy carried right into bubbling sensation BRS Kash giving listeners the live rendition of “Throat Baby.” The recent LVRN signee has swept the internet with this cut, and getting this look will only boost his current heat level. Kash began his performance seated on a brown leather couch, but didn’t take too long to stand up and match the animation of his record. The performance finished with him sitting back down and sipping a glass of wine, perhaps symbolic of the intentions conveyed in the song’s refrain. “Throat babies, I’m tryna give ’em to you.”
Then, there’s 6LACK. What else can you say about an artist you have seen 4.5 times? 4.5 because it doesn’t count if I can’t hear the beat drop on “PRBLMS” in person. I don’t make the rules. Anyways, you can actually say a lot when said act continues to deliver at a high rate while providing a unique experience each time. Unlike the chorus to his opening song “Long Nights,” you don’t have to hope for a good time; you know it’s inevitable.
6LACK has spent his career striving to improve as both a vocalist and performer. The way he has mastered using his own voice to its fullest and playing to his strengths in conjunction with the live production instead of trying to sound like anything or anyone else only serves to make his sets as impactful as his projects. They feel almost identical, but he makes things distinct by adding ad-libs and nuances to each selection. Nothing is regurgitated, yet the storytelling, emotion, and authenticity always shine through. Perhaps even more.
From the moonlight drive that is “Long Nights” he followed the sequencing of his recent 6PC HOT EP, fluidly transitioning into the introspective “Float.” That song change captures me every time I play the project, and it was no different live. He sat down on his own throne and continued with a solo version of “Pretty Little Fears.” It was more than worthwhile despite J. Cole’s absence, with bear employing a vocal scale in the chorus that pleasantly caught me off guard.
He kept it uptempo the next few tracks with the underrated deep cut “Let Her Go” and an especially lively “Know My Rights.” Lil Baby also was not present, but 6LACK made sure we felt the gravity of his impassioned verse. “Top 5, if you don’t agree, go check the numbers, too many can’t run with me.” Looking at the year he’s had, you can’t argue it. “Now I look up, we the GOATS of this shit.”
It’s not a 6 show if he doesn’t give us “PRBLMS,” though my curiosity was peaked as it ended up being his penultimate record when he usually ends his shows with it. The almost white noise-sounding repetition of the “I hate you” line was a nice touch, but the unplugged version of “Cutting Ties” to close his set was the real Midas. He sat upon a stool and sang his heart out as the bass played softly in the background. The song had never sounded so beautiful to me.
Once again, 6LACK showed us the many sides of his artistry. He made a virtual concert feel like an arena tour at certain points, and a coffee house open mic night during others. Shoutout to his band, all of the performers, and Patrón for giving us this necessary moment. This wasn’t just any Instagram Live. Live music is truly life, and when I finally get to see 6LACK perform “One Way” with this band, I will truly have nothing more to ask for.