Brasstracks is comprised of Ivan Jackson and Conor Ray, a prolific duo from New York who bring a mashup of Jazz, Funk and Soul music for a modern generation. Their new album “Before we go” showcases their personal evolution of musical style from electronic influences to a much more nuanced style with a dose of Rap and RnB. At their sold-out show at the El Rey theatre, they brought a talented ensemble of artists that highlighted the versatility of their music.
The concert hall was bathed in rich crimson with lavish chandeliers gracing the ceiling. The opulent velvet curtains pulled back to reveal a fair-sized stage with the neon Brasstracks logo casting a brilliant pink aura. The night started off with Anthony Flammia opening, his stand out piece was a soulful rendition of his newly released single “Pieces”. The stage was then graced by Kemba who gave a fiery performance that had the crowd engulfed in deafening screams. His closing piece was a masterful freeflowing verse which spoke about pop culture and social issues that could be most closely described as poetry.
The somewhat awkward long wait between the opening acts and the main performance didn’t seem to bother the crowd. The hall was as lively as ever, bursting with animated chatter.
When the duo finally came on stage they started off with the lights dimmed and then a rumbling drumming solo. Ivan - a carefree outgoing personality - energized the crowd by pounding down on the stage while somehow skillfully staying in tune. His presence was palpable and resonated throughout the room. Conor, who came off as more reserved, didn’t need to say much, his electrifying performance on the drums spoke for him.
The lights dazzled shades of pink, purple and blue and sparks of yellow burst through at key moments to hype up the crowd. Their setlist satisfied with a blend of their new releases as well as a variety of old favorites and pop covers. ‘Vibrant’ a high-energy rap beat with Atlanta based artist Pell was the perfect showcase of Brasstrack’s new sound. Another stand out piece was “I’m alright” ft R.LUM.R. The featured artist vigorously jammed out amongst the crowd, supporting his fellow performers before making his way on stage. It was a contrasting piece that swayed from smooth RnB vocals to bombastic horns and rhythmic drums.
My only critique is that I wished they had their supporting trombone and trumpet player more involved with their performance. Those key performers were forced to stay stationary at the far back of the stage throughout the night. Even during featured solo moments, they did not have their moment to shine, unlike all the other artists that accompanied the Brasstracks on the stage.
While I was mingling with some people before the show, I came to realize that the Brasstracks had a very loyal fan base. It was clear to me that Ivan and Conor really put heart and soul into their music and thoroughly appreciated the people that came out to support them.
Ivan really summed up the energy of the crowd and what the Brasstracks music was all about in this address to the fans: “There are people who want to take the fun out of making music. F*** that. We fell off our path and got really lost. Our project, for those who know part 1 and 2, is for those people who stood with us through this really weird transitionary phase. Only when we figured out that we need to have fun with the music that we’re making, did shit like selling out the El Rey happen. I want you guys to remember, never stop having fun, cause that's what this shit is all about.”
— Judith Shruti, DJ