I arrived to White Oak Music Hall at 7:00PM, right as doors opened. North Street was packed with parked cars, and a line of concertgoers ran all the way down to the last street parking spot, about a block and a half from the venue. And again, this was before the first opener even went on.
BLACKSTARKIDS is a fairly small group, originating from Kansas City, Missouri. The three primary members, TyFaizon, The Babe Gabe, and Deiondre met in high school, then formed the group. Originally, they worked under their independent record label, Bedroom records, before joining Dirty Hit in April 2020. Beabadoobee, signed to Dirty Hit in August 2018, and BLACKSTARKIDS have been labelmates since then.
BLACKSTARKIDS; photos by Jura Smith
Along with much of the audience, I was totally unfamiliar with BLACKSTARKIDS before this concert, but I definitely admired their work by the end of their set. Their style was an unusual, pop-culture inspired hodgepodge of indie pop, indie rock, and hip-hop; it felt like watching a grown-up Yo Gabba Gabba concert. Not sure how else to describe it.
It’s always inspiring, too, to see lesser-known artists go onstage where they know much of the audience is waiting for the headliner, and still have a great time and get everybody dancing. I loved the drummer, too — he didn’t have the sheer charisma of the three main members, but his talent spoke for itself. That being said, TyFaizon, The Babe Gabe, and Deiondre were super fun performers. It was especially cool to see them getting to perform and create a connection between the visual aspects of their eclectic style with the pop-culture inspired sound.
Two fans in the audience; photo by Jura Smith
I didn’t realize I knew Christian Leave before he came onstage, but when he made his entrance I recognized him immediately from his role as an occasional character in Josh Ovalle‘s Youtube series, “Stupid Bitches Enterprises”. Evidently, I had missed the part where he was a successful musician (with nearly 3,000,000 monthly listeners as of November 2021). Christian Leave was actually born in Texas, but spent at least a portion of his life in California in recent years (along with niche-social media-celebrity friends Enya Umanzor, Drew Phillips, Josiah, Josh Ovalle, and others).
I did feel a little bad for his band, though, because a lot of the fans seemed more there for him as a personality than a musician. He actually didn’t have a lot of stage presence, contrary to what his online videos would have you believe. His guitarist though, was having the time of his life, and occasionally he and Christian Leave would go play, laughing and facing each other. The music was great, but the performance was lacking ever-so-slightly. Still, it was a nice mellow segue into beabadoobee’s set.
Christian Leave and bandmates; photos by Jura Smith
After a few minutes of waiting for Christian Leave to strike their equipment, and helping security at the front hand out water to people behind the barricade, beabadoobee made her entrance. She entered, smiling softly, and got set up to kick off her act with “Sun More Often,” the third track off her 2019 EP Space Cadet. “Sun More Often,” I think, aptly summarizes her artistic growth from her first single, “Coffee,” to now; the song investigates the experience of stepping out of your comfort zone, perhaps alluding to beabadoobee’s experience growing in fame and musical skill.
beabadoobee (and her band of 3 other members) then shifted into “Care,” “Dye it Red,” and “Together,” three songs off Fake It Flowers (2020). It was evident at this point that this performance was heavily rock-influenced, and would be a solid performance.
beabadoobee; photo by Jura Smith
In the same style of Christian Leave’s performance, though, beabadoobee was pretty focused during her act, and seemed a little uncomfortable interacting with the audience or making any big “performative” moves. However, her vocals and instrumentals were solid; she switched out between several different guitars throughout her act, proving her musical talent (if somehow anyone in the crowd doubted her abilities). And, above all else, she did seem to be enjoying herself, and the audience was hugely invested in her act.
Overall, this was a pretty solid concert. The crowd was energetic, but not aggressive; the free water given out at the front was proof that White Oak Music Hall cares about the safety of their audience and staff; all three acts were musically impressive and pretty entertaining; and finally, the technical aspects of the show were amazing (the lighting technician was REALLY good at their job). I haven’t gone to a lot of concerts, but this was definitely one of my favorites so far. Check out White Oak Music Hall, beabadoobee, Christian Leave, and BLACKSTARKIDS, and hope you enjoyed this article!