“Hands Up!” the sign on the back of Mayer Hawthorne’s famous sofa spelled out to the Charleston audience. Although, instructions were evidently unnecessary as the crowd had already begun to push forward into the frame. The ‘Picture Time‘ trend (that fans can tag themselves in on Facebook) has become iconic to Hawthorne’s show, which is full of quirky moments in an upbeat performance to match his hip-hop and soulful style. Swinging open a door in the center of a large broken heart to kick off the night, spinning in choreographed dance moves and enjoying the company of an owl statue are just a few of the elements that made the show Monday night at the Music Farm come to life.
As the night creeped in and the time settled at 8 o’clock, the Danish group, Quadron, took the stage first. A collaboration of vocalist Coco O. and the musical talent of Robin Hannibal, the duo have been praised by Pitchfork’s Andrew Ryce as “a musician’s band.” Elements of soul and electronic beats makes them reminiscent of an eighties disco troupe, minus some of the funky groove, or a rhythm and soul ensemble with the jazzy tone of Coco’s dynamic voice. Of course, Coco’s choice of a black sequined jumpsuit and Robin’s perfect ‘fro also contributed to the association with the decade. The two flowed through a compilation of music from their last two records, including “Pressure,” “Hey Love,” and “LFT.” Their set list finished off with “Favorite Star,” one of their top hits from the recent album Avalanche, and a slightly embarrassed Coco promising free drinks for the crowd after she forgot which city they were in.
When Hawthorne took over, a similar vibe of the soulful eighties lingered but turned up from a smooth jazz to a mix of hip-hop and rock n’ roll. Dressed in a dark blue suit and Nike’s, he restlessly danced through several of his most recent compositions off the record Where Does This Door Go released last year, such as “Reach Out, Richard,” “Allie Jones,” and “Backseat Lover,” before pausing to snap a few photos. After his own shots were taken, Hawthorne let the lights come up and invited the crowd to do the same, twisting, turning and posing, before requesting everyone to put away their phones and actually be at the concert. Once everyone seemed to agree, police sirens went off as the band led into “Crime,” which features Kendrick Lamar on the recorded version.
The Detroit native followed the same pattern of including sound bits to lead into various tunes, adding a different element to the show and reminding the audience of his former days as a DJ. An especially notable moment was when he flowed from a cover of Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way” into the opening rhythm and lyrics, “so long, you did me wrong…” of his own well-known track, “The Walk.” Wrapping up the show with “Where Does This Door Go,” a softer composition compared to the upbeat groove of the record, but was met with a round of applause demanding an encore. Running back on stage, Hawthorne let the feel good tune of “Her Favorite Song” leave the last impression and encouraged the audience to gather any of their negative energy and “shake it, shake it off.”
Interested in keeping up with Mayer Hawthorne? Follow him on Twitter, @MayerHawthorne.
Also, do yourself a favor and take five minutes to watch his music video for “Her Favorite Song,” featuring an adorable crew of doggies.