Last weekend at The MET in Pawtucket, Masego and VanJess made incredible use of the intimate venue and created an unforgettable experience for fans. Masego is touring off the back of his debut studio album Lady Lady, a project showcasing the blend of jazz, hip-hop, and R&B that he’s been refining since the release of his EPs (Loose Thoughts and Pink Polo, a collaboration with EDM prodigy Medasin). Masego has coined the term “TrapHouseJazz” to describe his signature sound.
Vanjess is touring in support of their debut album Silk Canvas, which features Masego himself, Leikeli 47, and Goldlink.
VanJess was a great start to the night. The sibling duo’s chemistry can be felt pretty clearly through their studio recordings, but seeing the two live is a completely different experience. From their coordinated dancing to their harmonies, they showcased their potential not only as world-class musicians, but as world-class performers. VanJess’ repertoire showcases innovative combinations of classic R&B, southern hip-hop, and house music. At the beginning of the performance, the duo dropped a bit of Pawtucket trivia, mentioning how happy they were to be performing in “The Bucket” which is a common nickname for Pawtucket, Rhode Island.
A standout moment from VanJess’ set was their performance of “Through Enough,” their house-infused collaboration with GoldLink. The four-on-the-floor kick drums had the entire venue dancing, as some fans closest to the stage helped rap GoldLink’s featured verse. The duo’s performance of their highly successful single “Addicted” showcased their vocal talent over a booming and skeletal trap instrumental. VanJess finished the set with their Masego collaboration “Touch The Floor,” a perfect segue into Masego’s performance. Anyone in the room who didn’t know VanJess before the show definitely left a fan.
If any word best describes Masego’s performance, it’s versatility. The frontman rotated between soulful singing, airtight rhymes, and displays of virtuosic instrumental work. Masego first appeared on stage playing the saxophone solo from his mega hit “Tadow.” One of the most energetic moments of the show was when he pulled out a drum pad and sampler to produce a beat live on stage. The band then joined in, adding their live instruments to the production as Masego rapped his verses. He had the charisma and skill of a classic jazz bandleader with the musical sensibilities of today’s hip-hop climate.
Masego’s top-notch musical performance was complemented by top-notch crowd interaction. He peppered call-and-response ad-libs throughout the concert that had the crowd singing back to him. Die-hard fans at the front of the crowd rapped his verses with him and danced and sang with his backup singers. One unexpected yet fun moment of the performance was when Masego tossed a bundle of “Masego Money” into the crowd. Most attendees didn’t know if they should continue to dance or pick up the fake cash from the floor as a keepsake. Masego closed his main set with his Pink Polo hit “Girls That Dance,” with his keyboard player emulating Medasin’s massive supersaw chords on his synthesizer.
Today’s hip-hop and R&B music is moving in an increasingly electric direction, which sometimes leads to awkward performances when these songs are translated to a live setting. However, Masego and VanJess both showed that their versatility lies not only in the studio, but in their live shows, too. It was exciting and refreshing to see two sets that combined live performance so seamlessly with a modern sound.