Claiming Williams Day came to an exciting end last Thursday night in Greylock Hall. Students packed the hall to hear the student band Homage perform nine covers of popular R&B and hip-hop songs, as well as multiple original performances. Eight instrumentalists backed up lead vocalists Sevonna Brown ’15 and Tirhakah Love ’15 throughout the night.
The show began at 10 p.m. with a cover of Jay-Z’s “Show Me What You Got.” Brown’s strong alto voice enriched Love’s rapping in this and several other songs. Audience members stood close to the stage, some bouncing and clapping only three feet from the singers’ feet. Love paused mid-song to introduce the members of Homage and their instruments. Danny Schwartz ’13 (keyboard), Phillip Parnell ’13 (electric guitar), Greg Ferland ’16 (bass), Charlie Sellars ’13 (drums), Andy Quinn ’13 (tenor saxophone), Noah Wentzel ’13 (trumpet), Hartley Greenwald ’16 (trombone) and Paul Adeleke ’15 (electric violin) accompanied the vocals. “Show Me What You Got” set the tone for the evening. The crowd reciprocated Love and Brown’s infectious energy and enthusiasm for the rest of the night.
Brown kept the energy high for the second song, a rendition of “Ain’t Too Proud to Beg” by The Temptations. Homage’s version had even more energy and depth than the original, inspiring dancing in the crowd. Several students moved into the small empty space in front of the stage for spontaneous dance solos during instrumental sections. Audience participation was a feature of the show. The crowd carried the chorus of “Halo” by Beyoncé as Brown added vocal embellishments.
After the second song, Love insisted the audience move to the edge of the stage and encouraged them to dance freely. The crowd obliged, putting their hands up for “Thieves in the Night” by Black Star. This song featured prominent keyboarding and a guest trumpet solo by Jon Dely ’15. Love and Schwartz agreed that this was their favorite song of the night. “It has that smooth jazzy sound with a hip-hop flow and a killer trumpet solo,” Love said.
Homage continually varied the selection of songs, tweaking the atmosphere with each subsequent performance. The eclectic mix made for an exciting and interesting night for a crowd with a wide range of musical preferences. “We all have various tastes, and we wanted to give our audience an enjoyable show that really highlights our love for many different forms of music,” Love said. “We wanted the audience to vibe with us when we played jazz; we wanted them to dance with us when we played hip-hop.”
After “Halo,” Love brought the mood to a calmer level with an original spoken word poetry reading titled “Remember, Remember,” written by Love and accompanied by Schwartz on keyboard. Love was inspired by the human tendency to intentionally forget life experiences and that tendency’s effect on loved ones. Schwartz also contributed an original work to the night; his instrumental “Yee” brought the crowd’s high energy back to a more tranquil level after the spirited “Superstition,” originally by Stevie Wonder.
Several instrumentalists were featured in solos, but Adeleke on the electric violin was especially impressive. After an animated cover of “Touch the Sky” by Kanye West and Lupe Fiasco, Adeleke opened with “At Last” by Etta James. The audience sang along and Love encouraged members to “dance with somebody.” The mood calmed significantly but remained joyful. Brown’s voice was particularly suited to this song, and Wentzel was featured in a trumpet solo.
To close the show, Love thanked the audience, promising future concert dates. The musicians created an instrumental crescendo as the crowd bounced and danced. Over audience cheering, Love encouraged the crowd to go to bed and get some sleep. “You’ve got class tomorrow!” Love joked, but despite his claims was persuaded to perform more by calls for an encore. Love informed the audience, “They told us not to, but I think we’re going to do it anyway.” The crowd went crazy to “Backseat Freestyle” by Kendrick Lamar.
Love ended the night cheerfully, smiling as he stated, “We’re in big trouble.”