Show Review: Shad welcomes UofT Students To A New Semester

By Pavan Kaur Ubhi

To express that last Thursday’s Shad concert (with opening band Unbuttoned) was completely awesome would be leaving you with an incredible understatement.

I say this every single time I experience an amazing performance by a Toronto band or artist Toronto performers have been underrated for too long.  So I thank God that our hefty tuition money has done us students some good.  We may have long hours of lectures and essay writing, or labs and tests, but we get to experience amazing events like free concerts and seeing great performers in intimate conditions which are sometimes impossible outside of school privilege.

On Thursday night, U of T students were treated to a free concert for the Winter Week of Welcome, an event that is annually organized by our Student Union, the UTSU, to welcome back students after the holidays. It was hosted inside of our very own Hart House in the Great Hall. A beautiful venue which was later “desecrated” by rapper Shad, as he so eloquently put it.

But before the London, Ontario-raised rapper approached the stage, fans were taken, forced, and serenaded at centre stage by Toronto-native openers Unbuttoned.   They are more or less a band that sits in the R&B- pop genre but definitely dabble with many sounds in between. Just under the radar, these twenty-somethings are on their way up with such catchy and raw tunes.

Unbuttoned

Unbuttoned singer Casey Q has an undeniable timbre and vocal strength supported by his powerful counterpart vocalist Kamilah Apong.  Along with cool beats programmed by Casey, a backbone laid down by drummer Miles Gibbons and grooves by bassist Jonathan Milner, you can’t say no to Unbuttoned.  They performed their new single “Dance Like You” to pump up the already rowdy crowd and then serenaded the audience with some grooves off their first album. They also treated us to some amazing covers.  Kamilah did an incredible soul rendition of MGMT’s “Electric Feel” with Casey kicking in to cover Frank Ocean’s version of MGMT’s song, which Ocean titled “Nature Feels”. They also gave us a throwback, singing us the Outkast tune “Ms Jackson”, before ending with one of their most popular songs “This Feeling”.  Though almost nobody knew their songs, by the end of their set bodies were moving and heads were bopping.  If you have not heard of them or seen them around yet, you won’t have to wait long, that’s for sure.

ShadThen Shad happened. I do not know if it was something in the French fries or the drinks, but though it was not a fully packed venue it sure did feel and sound like it was.  The majority of the crowd went blistering mad in screams as the man himself strutted his way humbly on stage. It was a gracious surprise that made me quite happy to see people really appreciating such a talent. I think Shad realized that too the moment people started grabbing him upfront and yelling out each one of his lyrics. He rose to the energy of the room and the audience did the same.

The chemistry was instantaneous and because of the intimacy it was like Shad had all known us before. He told us stories of the bullet he carried around his neck, he borrowed a fan’s hat and sweat all upon its stitches, he came down to the floor to just rap with us all. He also gave us the opportunity to hear him play a little guitar on one of his slower beloved tracks, “Rock To It”. From his depth in relevance in worldly content to his understanding of getting through university,  Shad talks about it all with such intellectual verses  that there is no wonder to why he is so loved to those who understand him. He left us all, after the audience begged for an encore, with one of my personal favourite tunes of his, “Keep Shining”.  He left his fans with optimism, love, and positivity.

This definitely being one of the concerts I will never forget. Honest art never dies.

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