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Recap: 2015 Northern Lights Tour featuring Swoope and Christon Gray

2015-northern-lights-tour-recap
Christon Gray brought his "School of Roses" to H-town

Christon Gray brought his “School of Roses” to H-town

Last week the 2015 leg of the Northern Lights Tour with Christon Gray and Swoope kicked off in Texas.

Wade-O Radio team members Sketch the Journalist and Mikaela aka Laide Mak caught the first couple of shows (in Houston and Dallas respectively) and bring you their thoughts.

"Backstage in '09 like 'Is Bun coming?"

“Backstage in ’09 like ‘Is Bun coming?”

Houston – Warehouse Live – January 21, 2015

Recap by Sketch

Pluses:

  • Venue

    • I really appreciate that the guys were able to book a non-church location that hosts many mainstream concerts and art events. This is a popular spot in H-town, recently hosted Drake’s “Houston Appreciation Week” showcase, and was even referenced in his song “Too Much” about his big launch from Space City.
    • I also dig that, from the stage, Paul Barger (of Humble Beast and Stumptown Concerts) encouraged the audience to support the bar and tip well. Venues like this live off of the sales of beverages – adult and otherwise. If a concert series like the “Northern Lights” only attracts a crowd that asked for free cups of water, the business is not going to want them back or have any desire to book similar shows made up of Christian artists. It’s important that believers understand this dynamic and find a way, within their own convictions and conscious, to financially support the non-church type businesses that bring in the artists they want to see perform at mainstream music venues.
    • And no, none of the acts on stage appeared even the slightest bit hesitant in proclaiming the name of Jesus when a mic was in their hands.

Dallas – The Prophet Bar – January 23, 2015

Recap by Mikaela

  • Venue

    • I enjoyed this venue for it being very spacious. It was also in the popular and Historic District of Deep Ellum.
    • It was a venue in which people could enjoy the atmosphere because you had a lounge area, bar, and the ability to visibly see the artist on stage where ever you stood.
Poet/rapper/activist: AJ McQueen played opener on the first three Texas shows

Poet/rapper/activist: AJ McQueen played opener on the first three Texas shows

  • Opening acts

  • Houston

    • It’s great to see that this tour featured local or semi-local opening acts. The kickoff showcased Houston’s AJ McQueen – the talented poet/rapper from Still Trill Christians. He also joined Swoope and Christon Gray in Austin and Dallas alongside Sivion (another fellow Texan from the deepspace5 camp.) Now that’s how you live out the #SameTeam ethos.

Christon Gray invited audience members to play "air" instruments during his performance of "Super Dave."

  • Fun and Crowd Interaction

  • Houston

    • The fellas were obviously having fun. The setlist included some of their early work, a remix of WLAK’s “Reign Is Coming” over Jay-Z’s “PSA” beat, and “The Super Dave Deluxe Air Band” comprise of audience members.
  • Dallas

    • Chris and Swoope were definitely enjoying their time on stage as they joked around, called out members from the audience for being hype, and for knowing their music. They interacted with the audience very well, and provided a lot of crowd involvement with Chris even getting off the stage and coming into the crowd. AJ and the singer who accompanied him during his set, also interacted with the audience well, buy taking a audience member’s phone and capturing close shot video footage of himself, Chris and Swoope.
    • During Christon’s set, he let the audience come up with their own lyrics for the breakdown part his song “Wanna.” Because, no one really knows what Chris is saying, and listeners like to make up their own lyrics. Some of the favorites Chris heard were: “Cheeseburger, Mac and Cheese, and Nintendo.” “And I went to the store and tried to get a cheeseburger, but the line was too long, so I’m going home. Dah dah. Dah Dah. Dah dah. You don’t hear what I’m saying though.”
    • After the concert, all of the artists made themselves available to talk with fans and take pictures. They were very open to interact with their fans and hear their words of encouragement.

Minuses:

  • Guest features without the guests

  • Houston

    • “Same Team” is a great crew jam – on record. Live – without all of the featured guests? Not nearly as much fun.
    • Also, opener AJ McQueen debuted a new song that has Christon Gray singing the hook. But Mr. School of Roses was conspicuously absent from the stage when it was performed. Why? He was just a door away and later joined AJ and Swoope on stage for the show’s closer. It was strange.
  • Dallas

    • I love to see artists, who are on the bill or not, interacting with one another. Especially on stage. One minus for me, was that when “Same Team” came on, everyone was on the stage except Sivion. I’m not sure where he was, but he was M.I.A. for that specific song.
  • Opening Act

  • Dallas

    • Having artists open up for you helps introduce fans to artists they may have never heard of. The negative aspect is that they may or may not be received well to an unfamiliar fan base. That is what happened with Sivion, as the audience did not receive him that well, since they are unfamiliar with his music. Even though Sivion had a lot of energy and enthusiasm, his mellow-type music is probably good for cafe-like or intimate venues, verses a concert like venue.
  • Intermission

  • Dallas

    • The intermission portion, as the audience waited for Christon Gray and Swoope to come out, DJ Efechto was on the 1’s & 2’s. Even though he kept the music going, I think it would have been good to include music in his mix that the audience would probably have known. Because he didn’t, the intermission portion felt long and boring. The audience just stood there, others walked around, and others were on their phone.
  • Swoope & Christon’s Set

  • Dallas

    • Honestly, I wish Chris and Swoope’s sets were a little longer. Maybe they had a time limit, but the audience wanted more from the Collision Records artists. Even though they made their way through projects like Body Art, Wake Up, WLAK, Because you Asked, Sinema and School of Roses.
"Cellphones and lighters / I wanna see them things up higher"

“Cellphones and lighters / I wanna see them things up higher”

  • Right song / wrong venue?

    • Swoope performed “Word to My Peoples” – his proverbial letter to Christian hip hop. It seemed like an odd song choice for a venue such as this that seems designed to attract an audience not already enamored with our scene. I can see this having more impact at Flavor Fest or the Legacy Conference where the in-house business would be heard by members of the Christian hip hop community. But at a mainstream joint? It was a little puzzling.

DJ_Efecto_NLT

  • Nothing for sale

    • Where was the merch? Paul Barger gave out a Christon Gray tee from the stage but there was no booth available to purchase one. Or a Northern Lights tour cap or tee (like Collision Records offered during the Southern Lights sets with Alex Faith and Dre Murray.) Or physical copies of their albums. Or even the new Humble Beast Left Roasters coffee. Fans like to support artists by purchasing more than just their concert tickets. It’s also cool to leave with a souvenir from the show. I know it’s extra luggage to ship or drive from town to town, but this seems like lost revenue and a missed opportunity.
  • Dallas

    • The audience was told that there would be a giveaway, but they never did have it. Sivion was able to provide the audience with some of his merch, like his latest album Group Therapy.

Conclusion

Overall, the Northern Lights Tour stop in Texas was an enjoyable event which pleased fans with lots of artist interaction, throwback and popular mainstream hip hop instrumentals, and most importantly the message of Jesus Christ.

Christian Battle Rap
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