If you tied me up, held me down, and FORCED me to name my favorite music artist - it would be tough - but I’d probably say Musiq Soulchild. I love me some neo-soul, and I was raised on r&b. So when one of my girlfriends asked if I wanted to go to a Musiq concert last month - I was instantly in.
The concert took place at a dinner-theater type venue, so there were tables around the main stage and a menu from which we could order food and drinks. The woman who checked our ID’s at the door remarked that my friend “just made it”. I will have you know that she was a full 23 years of age, and I’m 22 - we were plenty past the drinking age as far as we were concerned. But once we stepped inside I understood why we struck her as so young - most everyone there was in their 40s and 50s. As someone who considers herself a hip and cool millennial, I was surprised. Here’s my favorite contemporary artist, who I think is hip, and everyone in the audience is old enough to be my mother (and understandably it’s mostly women).
Neo-soul isn’t just for old timers - it is “neo” after all. Musiq brought it up himself. Towards the beginning of the concert, he talked about how people say that soul is the kind of music they used to like back in the day, without realizing that soul artists are still here and need supporting. He said there’s pressure to keep up with trends and do the new thing, but he’s going to keep doing his thing. I appreciate that, Musiq - even if the trendy youngsters don’t.
Aside from that, Musiq kept it light. The attire of band was cool-casual: jeans, leather jackets, denim vests, hoodies. Relaxed, but fly. He was humble even in the promo, at one point saying, “if you don’t already know, my name is Musiq Soulchild,” and mentioning his new album. His speaking voice was surprisingly lower than his singing voice at times. I appreciated that he spotlighted his backup singers; each one had time to shine. There was one man, one soprano woman, and one alto woman who was phenomenal. Altos really don’t get enough credit, she had such a unique tone. The music did not disappoint. It’s really something to be able to hear the bass in your bones, to vibe live with the music, to look over at your friends and smile because it’s just so good.
Musiq played all of my faves. He encouraged us to sing along, which of course I did. When he hit “Until” and I was jamming in my seat. The opening to “LOVE” had people yelling with anticipation. At the end of the song, it sounded like he was going to get political, which had me excited. He ad-libbed, "Love I’ll turn to you. No matter what’s going on in the world, I’ll turn to you. In times of adversity, I’ll turn to you. For better or worse I still will choose you first”. I but he left it there - a general statement, but a relevant one.
The show was unexpectedly short. We got there around 10, Musiq started at 10:30, and ended at 11:30 with “that’s my time”, and a short conclusion. It was a completely sold out room, but there was no call for an encore. People probably weren’t as hype as he would have liked, but these are relatively old folks and it was kinda late (I myself was tired, and congested on top of that). The cozy dinner vibe and tight seating but might have led to a more sedentary audience: people were eating, waiters kept walking through. There was a group towards the stage that got up and danced, and Musiq came over and danced with them at the edge of the stage, but other than that it was a mellow crowd.
Even if more mellow than I expected, it was quite an enjoyable evening. I came away with a satisfied soul and satisfied belly (I couldn’t resist the hummus plate). Musiq Soulchild will continue to be my go-to neo-soul artist.