On March 2nd, a line up for the ages hit Cleveland Ohio at the House of Blues: Christian French, Ashe, and Quinn XCII.
Within this city a buzz, seemed to be radiating outside of the House of Blue unlike anything I’ve seen in awhile. The GA floor filled quickly with people and the smell of slightly burning popcorn (a memory of this venue that may just be so ingrained into my brain, even if it ceased, would linger eternally). The crowd was a mix of what seemed to be mostly college age kids waiting to see to colorful pop show about to appear before them.
Christian French was the first to play to the large sea of people. It’s not often I see this many people here for the first artist, so I was intrigued to see how it would land with the crowd. Being only mildly familiar with the name, even I was curious to see the Indiana based artist. As the two piece reached a very cluttered stage that was mostly draped over, covering the later artists production equipment. French and his guitarist, Warren Russel, immediately drew in the entire crowd. With his vibey dance moves as he sang, the crowd seemed to pick up exactly the message they were trying to cover for the night: to have fun! While a surprising amount of people sang along, by the end of Christian’s set almost everyone was trying to sing with him. Truly a special performance and set a perfect tone for the rest of the artists to play tonight.
Appearing next was Ashe, who I, personally, was most excited to see. After becoming familiar with the Berkeley graduate’s music sometime early last year, I had anticipated trying to catch whatever live show she may have near me soon. I never thought how wonderfully she would surpass my expectations for a live show. Upon entering the stage with her keyboard and drummer, I knew I’d be in a treat to see it performed with the live drums. The vibe pop sound from Ashe immediately shook the room of people that were still buzzing from the last artist. I heard a communal whisper amongst mostly women in the crowd of “who is this? I love her!” and other similar banter throughout the entire set.
As the barefooted lady danced to the music as it rang from the speakers, she brought in every last person’s attention by the end of the set. Treating us with mashups she had made of her own songs with popular songs like Kid Cudi’s “Pursuit of Happiness” — to which she played along to on her keyboard, and later when playing her song “Real Love” mixing it with her rendition of Chance the Rapper’s “Same Drugs”. Ashe also brought the attention to the honest truth about touring, saying “It’s f**kin’ hard.” While explaining that on their European leg of this tour she had gotten pneumonia and hadn’t fully recovered yet, she also paid due to the ever famous Cup O’ Noddles and 8 hour drive leading up to the Cleveland arrival.
All of this said to remind people that touring isn’t always a party, but that she was still nothing more than thankful and appreciative for everyone that made it to the very sold out show. The free spirit style of Ashe is one of her own and her music and live performance reflected flawlessly what I as a fan was only hoping to experience.
Finally, it was time for the headliner: Quinn XCII. After staring at a mostly draped off stage for the most of the night, attendees had come to question what could possibly be under the bull stage equipment that resembled nothing of instruments. After the curtain raised, what was left was a still pitch black stage and only a 4:00 timer countdown on a large LED panel. A roar of excitement hit the crowd and a shocking amount of people counted down the entire four minutes. At the end of the timer, the album cover for 2019’s From Michigan with Love lit up the same panel replacing the clock.
“From Michigan with Love,” it read, and almost instantly Michigan had rotated through the proposed list of previous dates before landing on Cleveland. Screams from the crowd bounced off every wall as Quinn XCII entered the stage. Standing on the largest of a three tier lift from the stage, under him were more LED Panels vibrating blue and pink colors off into the crowd.
Opening with the popular song “Sad Still,” the crowd chanted the chorus back at the singer, drummer and DJ combo. The LED panels flashing back different key lyrics and other visual art pertaining to the song, it truly was an incredible performance. The rest of the set stood up against the first song only getting better as night went on and the crowd got more familiar with the incredible production and performance. Quinn’s energy was so insanely high and his presence was unmatched by any show I had seen in a very long time. A truly memorable experience start to finish, I can truly say I was honored to have witnessed it first hand. I didn’t come to the show originally as a fan of Quinn XCII, but I think I speak for everyone when I say we all left die hard supporters of the Detroit artist.