The stress of categorizing their music and performance is not something that Dante Jones and Drew Love of THEY. are concerned with. Through listening to their music and talking with them for a pre-show interview this was apparent, but it was not until they glided through the middle of the crowd to the stage in black hooded capes that I truly understood what they were talking about. Through vibrant dark red lights, fake candles illuminating the stage, and choking fog, I watched in awe as THEY. transformed the small-scale Social Hall into a roaring arena on Friday, March 10th.
At times, their show was what you would expect from a hype hip-hop/rap group, as they performed almost every song off of their new album “Nü Religion: Hyena,” along with a few older tracks. But before anyone got too comfortable, they turned everything upside down by pulling out two chairs to switch styles and serenade the audience. All the while maintaining more than enough energy to fill up the arena they had created. THEY. also took the time to speak up against police brutality before segueing into their politically charged “Say When.” Drew shared an intimate moment with the audience when he talked about not fitting in at school and his journey to realizing that he needed to stop comparing himself to others. It was obvious that his message of nonconformity and individuality struck a chord with the audience as people of all races, ages, and genders lifted up their phone lights while they swayed and sang along to “Dante’s Creek.” By the end of the night, everyone was in the air, while some were actually on stage with THEY., for their final song “U-RITE.”
The Nü Religion Tour is not your average concert experience. It is an initiation into the “Wolfpac,” the name for THEY.’s flourishing fan base. A fan base where you do not have to be a “certain way” in order to like them because nothing about their music is “certain.” THEY. are simply doing what they like, stepping outside of the box and branching out to whichever musical genres they feel inspired by. And if one feels inclined to categorize them as hip-hop/rap, fine, but they sure are redefining the genre.
Written by Rebekah Gonzalez