The Best Love Is Free 5 at First Avenue, 2/15/14

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Erik Hess
The Best Love Is Free 5 

with Astronautalis, Psalm One, K. Flay, VAYNS, Allan Kingdom, False Teeth, and Symmetry 
First Avenue Mainroom and 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis
Saturday, February 15, 2014

The fifth and final Best Love Is Free occupied both the First Avenue Mainroom and the 7th St. Entry in its biggest iteration yet this past Saturday night. Botzy, who was both hosting the evening and performing with his new project VAYNS, looked dapper in his gray tux. Along with him, a wide range of acts made the night one to remember.

See Also: Slideshow: The Best Love is Free 5 at First Avenue

Providence, Rhode Island's Symmetry kicked things off in the Entry with a rap set that highlighted his tight, melodic flow over beats by producers like Ryan Lewis and Budo. Opening with a quickly rapped yet down-tempo tune about his experiences struggling with and surrounded by addiction, the set maintained the introduction's heaviness but cut through it with a light approach that rarely felt in-your-face. With many out-of-owners on the bill, the show served as a great introduction to a wide variety of artists, and the setlists in both the Mainroom and the Entry were well-spaced so the crowd could dip between acts and likely catch everything. 

Allan Kingdom's return to the big stage found him in great form after performing at last month's Best New Bands concert. His movements were spontaneous and manic at times but largely he played it cool, keeping his energy subdued and the focus on the raps. There's a number of ideas lurking inside Allan's music, and the best moments found him bursting at the seams expressing them. The delivery veers into Chance the Rapper's sing-songy chop-rap on occasion, but the wordplay and topics feel uniquely his. It's evident that Allan will progress in directions that will defy any comparison.
Photos by Erik Hess
After Allan's set closed, Botzy returned to the stage but with a full band behind him this time for the debut of his collaboration with producer and singer MunQs, collectively known as VAYNS. The band featured MunQs electronic production underneath live guitar, bass, drums, and two backup singers. Botzy and MunQs' dual lead vocalist duties incorporated a number of different musical influences and managed to filter them into a big, cohesive sound that felt stadium-ready and massive. Ashley DuBose and Sophia Eris made cameo appearances on a few songs and bolstered the energy even further. A very successful first run at a new project, VAYNS made a solid introduction and stands to propel even further. 

Back in the Mainroom, Brooklyn's K. Flay played to a captivated and enthusiastic audience. Amplifying her self-produced beats with help from a live drummer, K. Flay's performance found the middle ground between her humble personality and her energetic material. As she moved between rapping, singing, drumming, and working the mixing board, she displayed an impressive array of skills that retained a downplayed subtlety. Rapping over Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" was a bit of an easy audience-grab, but it worked remarkably well and made for a big finale to her tight performance.
Photos by Erik Hess
In the Entry, Psalm One stole the show with an amazing performance as Hologram Kizzie, running through a range of new material that pushed in bold new directions and sounded incredible live. Backed by the pink-haired Fluffy, Psalm One touted an effortless swagger that brought life to the forward-thinking songs about sex, violence, and power dynamics.

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