Author: Ariel Wood
Room 25 Closes at The Sylvee
This past Saturday, Noname closed out her ‘Room 25’ tour at the Sylvee in Madison. It was a stellar show; well worth trudging through the cold winter night to see.
Noname’s opener, Elton Aura kicked things off with a lively set that exemplified some of the best qualities of Chicago rap. A self-ascribed Renaissance Vocalist, Elton’s indie rap style and flow was hypnotic and energetic. Openers that hold an entire audience’s attention are sadly not so easy to find, yet Elton had everyone on their feet and moving along. There might not be an album out yet from Elton, but he’s certainly one to watch.
Backing up Noname was an incredible crew of talented musicians and breathtaking vocalists. Live bands should never be taken for granted. The band became silhouettes as the lights went down and the big, flashing “ROOM 25” sign lit up. Noname hit the stage with a drink in one hand and her mic in the other, coat still on as if she had just walked through the door. As the band grooved through hits new and old, Noname layed down verses with the ease of a professional. She strolled back and forth across the stage, casually ripping into systemic racism on one track, and praising her “good pussy” on the next. In one especially singeing piece, “Blaxploitation,” she paused to check in with the audience:
“How you guys doing? You’re all quiet, but I feel like I’m rapping my a*s off. I know most of you haven’t been to a rap show before but like say something when I say something big. Like Damn! That’s a metaphor! You look like an educated bunch. I know there’s a college here.”
Unsurprisingly for Madison, the majority of the crowd was white, me included, and the call and response nature of the show wasn’t setting in too easy. Noname did rap her a*s off, and it was an incredible show. It was probably just a little disappointing to close her tour for her debut studio album – Metacritic’s highest rated album of 2018, the first album by a female artist to do so – in a city where rap music is more of an excuse to look cool, than it is thoroughly appreciated.