Towkio and Kehlani Pack Out The Metro in Chicago

Photos by Bryan Lamb

Two years ago I stood on the floor of The Metro in the shadow of Chicago’s Wrigley Field and watched as Chance The Rapper turned a crowd of teenagers and kids in their early 20s into a frenzy. It’s crazy to think it’s been two years since Acid Rap Live. The movement continued Saturday (May 16) as the latest member to emerge from the local SaveMoney contingent took his place alongside Chancelor Bennett and Vic Mensa, proving himself a formidable act on the strength of his recent release,.Wav Theory.

Packed to the brim for the confluence of West Coast crooner Kehlani’s smooth sound juxtaposed by Towkio’s foot-work inspired vibes that got a solid backing from fellow opener DJ Spinn of TekLife, the crowd was lit from start to finish. Diagonal is a word I’ve used several times to explain the way Towkio’s creation process works and a better term couldn’t have been found to explain the crowd in attendance. The all-ages show had teens in crop tops bopping next to adults hopelessly bobbing their heads to the rhythm. Black with white, young with old; all seemed to converge at Towkio’s debut headlining gig at the same venue that sent acts like the Smashing Pumpkins, Kanye West and Fall Out Boy off from their hometown.

Following the irreverent oohs and aahs from Kehlani’s set were the steady chantings of “Towkio” from the capacity crowd as the house lights dimmed. The warmth outside that broke a streak of cold, shadowy days here seemed offset by the opener’s California ties and everyone in the building seemed to be a few shades darker due to the sweaty atmosphere. Before long, though, the main attraction took the stage to perform the lead single from .Wav Theory. “I Know You” got the crowd going before diving into “Clean Up.”  Fellow SaveMoney act Leather Corduroys stopped by to do the classics like “World Turnin’,”  “God In Me” and the new “Have U Eva.” Turning up the energy in the room, Joey Purp and KAMI exited stage left, allowing for fans to get their first full glimpse of Towkio’s backing band of Peter CottonTale, Stix and Carter Lang who paced the set throughout and added a distinctly more organic flair to the album as a whole.

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Of course, the thirsty crowd got what they wanted eventually as Chance The Rapper emerged from the shadows of backstage to deliver a rousing performance of “Sunday Candy” that rolled into his single “The Way” before culminating the whole show with a performance of “Heaven Only Knows” with fellow hometown up and comer Eryn Allen Kane.

If there was one thing to be taken from .Wav Theory it was that Towkio is an artist and a man who has bided his time for his chance to emerge and this show Saturday was a perfect understanding of such. Nothing was out of line. From the house lights to the backing visuals to the band itself, the show was a tightly-wound experience that seemed perfectly in tune with the way Towkio has carefully worked his career to this point.

Back in January when XXL interviewed him as part of a feature on SaveMoney, Towkio mentioned wanting to bring people together with his music, playing on the way his collective has been able to do the same within the city. Sprinkled throughout .Wav Theory are mentions of patiently waiting one’s turn and Towkio has certainly done just that. Ascending to the Metro stage like a junior to the varsity team, the former quarterback at Lane Tech just a few blocks down Addison asserted himself. If Saturday night in Chicago was any indicator, the kid is on his way to a long career.—Jake Krez


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