Rhye brings their spin of R&B to soldout 9:30 Club in Washington DC (review)

When it comes to the popular R&B artists out of Canada, Toronto’s Milosh may not be high on the popularity radar however with his vocal abilities he should not be left of the most talented list.

Monday night I found myself – Only Black Kid – in 9:30 Club with a largely white audience as Milosh’s R&B musical project, Rhye, made their way to Washington D.C. in part of their three-country tour.

A visual that Rhye keep mysterious throughout the show, the group opened up their set performing an interpolation of debut LP record “3 Days.” Forcing the music out in front of the six-piece band’s physical presence, Rhye hid behind a gloomy purple lighted shadow, that remained dark during the group’s hour-long setlist.

Rhye’s setlist included a balance of slow-tempo records – “Major Minor Love,” “Stay Safe” and “Waste” – that allowed couples to get mushy and be romantic in the packed crowd, and with a few key upbeat records – “Open” and “Last Dance.- the band provided the ambience for patrons to hold hands and dance the night away.

Milosh’s vocal ability was at peak during Rhye’s acoustic guitar performance of “Song For You.” With the band giving Milosh space to shine, one could hear the surge of emotion in the singer’s voice, resembling an energy and sound to Sade’s “Love Deluxe.”

The balance of uptempo and slow-tempo records allowed Rhye to keep control of the audience, however Milosh’s subtle acknowledgment of the crowd made the show very impersonal; hearing only from Milosh when he requested for two photographers to stop their conversation in the photo pit and when he gave a very bland story of the last time he performed in the city and how it was cold outside midwinter.

While we should not attempt to box ideas into a single category, and rather enjoy them at face value, it is difficult not to consider the majority of what Rhye was performing as soft rock. At times, paying no homage to the general conscious of the R&B genre and its originators, Rhye’s sound during cuts from their latest album “Blood” lacked substance, and exemplified an artist attempting to remain safe while gentrifying sexy soulful singing and a strong backbeat to fit a fanbase moved by internet-driven trends. An artist attempting to recreate black music for people who shop at Whole Foods.

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