Selling out a Wednesday night show in advance doesn’t happen often. However, up-and-coming pop artist Marc E. Bassy did just that on a stop along his Gossip Columns Tour at El Rey Theatre in Hollywood. The concert featured a diverse lineup including openers Gianni Taylor and Rexx Life Raj, and a number of other surprise guests throughout the show. It was an exciting night with a variety of sounds and styles and a whole lot of love for the Bay Area showcased on the mainstage, with all three artists having ties to the region.
The evening began with a few tracks from artist Gianni Taylor. Entering the stage in a matching two-piece ’90s-esque windbreaker jumpsuit, Taylor commanded the stage with his 6-foot 7-inch (he announced) stature. His sound lies somewhere in between R&B and hip-hop, slightly reminiscent of Sammy Adams. In an interesting twist, after his first song, Taylor welcomed to the stage his good friend Justin Escalona, a student at the USC School of Cinematic Arts. It seemed that Escalona and a couple of his friends were filming Taylor’s set, collecting B-roll for a potential music video.
Between sets, DJ Shellheart, a female DJ, kept the crowd entertained, which was a pleasant surprise in a musical genre typically dominated by men. Shellheart did an excellent job of warming up the crowd for her friend and colleague Rexx Life Raj, the second opener of the night. Rexx, as he is often known, and his crew brought more rap to the stage than Taylor’s set did, and gave several shoutouts to the Bay as their home and inspiration. For Rexx’s final song, he asked all of the fans who were there to see him to come to the front and center of the venue; he then hurdled over the barrier and serenaded his fans with “Moxie Java,” a track from his newest album Father Figure.
The evening’s headliner, Marc E. Bassy, made his debut behind the piano for a rendition of “Morning.” Bassy, like several of his comrades on this tour, has split a lot of his life between the Bay Area and Los Angeles, and dedicated songs to each city during his performance. It was obvious that the bulk of the crowd was there for Bassy and each song brought a new wave of excitement. The size and liveliness of the audience at El Rey reflected that of a sold-out show.
Members of the audience recognized songs he performed that they had heard from streaming services without realizing he was the artist. This is a common occurrence in an age when music apps like Spotify and Pandora create personalized playlists based on listeners’ preferences.
After a few songs, Bassy took some time to talk about a recent trip to Utah that inspired a new song he wanted to write this summer. The trip led to the creation of a new single, “Main Chick,” which he noted will likely be released later in April.
During the chat, Bassy also got a little political, echoing a sentiment common among the Bay Area rap crowd: “F-ck Donald Trump.” Bassy made no attempt to cover the YG song by the same name but did mention, “If anyone tells you that you shouldn’t be in America, come stay at my house,” drawing cheers from the diverse crowd. After playing “Heroine,” guest rapper KYLE crashed the stage for a performance of the duo’s “Plot Twist,” then a mashup of a few of KYLE’s recent songs including last summer’s hit “iSpy.”
Bassy closed the set with “Til I get Found,” but as per usual, that was not the true end of the show. After a few minutes of chanting following his departure, he returned to the stage for an encore. The women in the crowd went wild as Bassy removed his shirt and began to sing “Black Jeep.” The evening culminated in a sensual (read: still shirtless) performance of Bassy’s hit “Subway Car” from his 2016 album Groovy People. With the conclusion of the final song, the venue began to clear and the show felt truly complete.