REVIEW: Dominic Fike delivers breakout in Hammer Museum performance

Dominic Fike burst onto the music scene last year with his EP “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos.” (Photo from Instagram)

It was nearing 9:30 p.m. Friday night at the Hammer Museum. Excited murmurs rose and fell as all around the room, college students waited eagerly, dressed in their assorted GOLF vests and donning crudely dyed hair. After several opening acts, the night was drawing to a close. Suddenly, the crowd erupted in cheers as baby-faced rock star Dominic Fike took the stage.

Even though he has only six songs to his name, Fike managed to sign a multimillion-dollar contract with Columbia Records and has garnered praise from  industry titans like Diplo and Brockhampton, both of whom showed their support at the concert. And most importantly, Fike has built a strong and devoted fan base almost overnight.

Yet, for those who saw him perform live for the first time, the artist’s talent wasn’t immediately noticeable. Though his vocal performance was strong and the songs infectious, Fike’s apparent lack of enthusiasm left fans disengaged. Unlike most artists, however, he owned up to this shortcoming. Onstage, Fike admitted he hates performing largely because he is tired of these same six songs.

The show was also riddled with technical issues that were not only distracting, but also clearly frustrating for Fike. At one point, he even yelled, “Stop, stop, stop. I’m done,” before taking off his guitar and walking offstage. However, he returned immediately and said he was joking.

From that moment on, the artist engaged with fans much more intimately. He played highly adapted versions of his songs, each one clearly distinct from the studio versions.

And between every few songs shouts of “Jada Pinkett” would cut through the room from either side of the crowd. Either those yelling in the crowd had been fans of Dominic Fike since his early Florida days or had liked his current music enough to seek out his catalog.

Whether he was flattered by his fans’ commitment or excited to perform a song that felt less worn out, Fike eventually attempted to perform the track. To the chagrin of many fans, however, Fike failed, as he could not find the backing track.

Instead, he played an unreleased track. The highlight of the evening, Fike’s new song deviated enough from his current style to feel fresh but just similar enough to be distinctly Dominic Fike. The song underscored Fike’s songwriting talent better than any track on his EP “Don’t Forget About Me, Demos.” In fact, some parts of the track felt like they were more reminiscent of Fike’s pre-Columbia days. Yet, he still showcased his effortlessly smooth and powerful singing voice.  

More than at any other moment in the night, the energy of the room was palpable at the sound of Fike’s newest tune. At last, he seemed to truly enjoy performing as he enchanted the crowd, which oscillated between jumping excitedly and swooning uncontrollably. The lyrics felt sincere and dealt directly with his time in jail.

Despite the technical difficulties, delayed start and Fike’s disengagement, the concert was worth it, as it led to Fike presenting something he was proud of to his fans.

After finishing his set, Dominic Fike — perhaps naively — said he would hang around for a while and grab drinks with people who were interested. In that exact moment, however, the crowd recognized the members of Brockhampton standing on the sideline and decided to bum rush both them and Fike. In the midst of shoving and jumping over chairs and tables, Brockhampton and Dominic were quickly escorted out.

And suddenly it was quiet again. The sea of bodies quickly dissipated, and only the cold air and the anticipation for future performances were left.