The Stand4rd at Amsterdam, 11/1/14

The Stand4rd
Saturday, November 1, 2014

St. Paul supergroup the Stand4rd lived up to the hype during their debut performance at Amsterdam on Saturday evening. Spooky Black, Bobby Raps, Allan Kingdom, and Psymun performed collectively to a sold-out, all-ages crowd who cheered throughout the energetic stage show.

See also:
Slideshow: The Stand4rd Take Over Amsterdam Bar

A palpable sense of anticipation filled the room as DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP spun an introductory set of modern and throwback slow jams, setting the tone and establishing a context by playing everything from Joe to Ciara to PARTYNEXTDOOR to K-Ci & JoJo. Ending pointedly on the first chapter of "Trapped in the Closet", TIIIIIIIIIIP turned the boards over to Spooky Black, whose appearance on stage garnered emphatic screams from the crowd.

Under the alias DJ Crazy Frog, Spooky Black began to play various trance and electro-pop songs by pointing and clicking on his laptop. "Sorry, DJ Crazy Frog is not a very good DJ," he said awkwardly, though the stop-and-start segues and volume change blips made that evident enough. It didn't matter; the droves of excitable teens were determined to be amped, meeting the profoundly uncool music with fist pumps and leaping.

The fast-paced and overly cheery song choices -- Phil Collins, even -- were antithetical to Spooky Black's sad-boy oeuvre, but it did prove his cult of personality carried through to moments of just fucking around. The audience was behind him wholeheartedly, hollering in approval for every bit of ineloquent banter and gawky stage presence. The teenage internet sensation made a burlesque of his awkwardness by playing it up whenever he could, and it gave him a strange sort of humble charm rarely seen among vocalists.
The mystique Spooky Black built as a young, questionable, and talented viral sensation who had yet to play any shows brought him a particularly strong crowd response, but as the rest of the Stand4rd took to the stage one by one, it was a reminder that each had cultivated a following with their solo material before any of the handful of group songs surfaced.

Bobby Raps, who manned the beats for Spooky's opener, "DJ Khaled Is My Father," built a fanbase as a member of Audio Perm and as a battle-dominating producer. Trained in underground rap's wordy and combative posturing, Bobby's been showing a bit of a Future influence lately, evidenced especially by his track "Hinnem Lix" (which DJ TIIIIIIIIIIP spun early on in the show).

Tapping into an affecting falsetto and an emotive lyrical focus, Raps' work with the Stand4rd finds him writing his best material to date, maintaining his breathlessly rapid vocal style while adding an entirely new dimension. Psymun, known for his production work with K.Raydio and on solo efforts, played the back of the stage with King Krule-inspired guitar jangles atop the highly collaborative Stand4rd production.

Allan Kingdom, who surfaced for the second track "Wavey" off his recent Future Memoirs album, found the high-pitched sung-rap middle ground between Bobby's rhymes and Spooky's downtempo warbles. The individual talents shone through as the group switched between solo tracks and Stand4rd songs, but together the group had something wholly unique.
It's a rarity to see a Minnesota hip-hop group as on-trend as the Stand4rd, who tap into the wave of syrupy, reverberated, trap-leaning croon-rap found in the work of artists like Future, the Weeknd, Drake, and Ty Dolla $ign.

They're successful at it because they draw inspiration from the spirit of the sound instead of trying to ape specific signifiers. It's earnest, honest, forward-thinking, and fun music, and it translates live very well thanks to the youthful yet experienced performers. They're all very talented vocalists too, rapping and singing in that perfect middle ground between mastery and rough-around-the-edges.

Spooky Black especially showcased a skill some seemingly doubted, giving a slightly aggressive tinge to certain tracks like Psymun's "Blind" that added some powerful nuance. Bobby Raps would occasionally rap so hard he'd lose his breath entirely, hoarsely spurting out lyrics with every last ounce of energy, while still somehow fitting the overall downtempo vibe.

Allan Kingdom's attention to smoothness allowed him to switch between deep-voiced raps and high-register singing on a dime, all while maintaining a unique cool all his own. As visuals of the woods, burning Jordans, and DJ Khaled drinking Gatorade played in the background, the group put on an entertaining downtempo rap set that was distinctive in many ways.
The Stand4rd unveiled a November 4 release date for their album, and played a number of new tracks. There's a lot of good ideas floating around in this camp, and they come together with few cracks in the foundation. Likely this has something to do with the fact that all four members are producers to some degree, each understanding how to construct songs and yearning to reach new sonic avenues.

Spooky Black unveiled some new solo material as well, including some slap-bass early-'90s hip-house that played starkly different from his typically cold and downtempo vibe. Each member took the time to shout out their mothers (and in Bobby's case, grandmothers), all in attendance in classic St. Paul fashion. They never looked anything less than completely excited to be playing such a successful show for their hometown, and they thanked their fans profusely.

Many in the audience were feigning fainting spells and overwhelming excitability. There was an undeniable sense we were witness to a new breakout local phenomena, and the Stand4rd could very well go on to become our next big musical export after their upcoming tour. The St. Paul stop was certainly something special.

Personal Bias: I'm glad whenever someone puts St. Paul on the map.

The Crowd: The majority were under 21, and remarkably excitable. 

Overheard in the Crowd: "They play so much Young Thug!"

Random Notebook Dump: There need to be more all-ages shows in town.


DJ Khaled Is My Father (Spooky Black)
Wavey (Allan Kingdom and Spooky Black)
Unreleased Track
Blind (Psymun, Spooky Black, and Bobby Raps)
Unreleased Track
Unreleased Track
Without U (Spooky Black)
Reason (Spooky Black)
Tryna Fuck 
Unreleased Track
Can I Make U Mine (Spooky Black)
Work Me Over (Allan Kingdom)
Simple Needs
Evergreens (Allan Kingdom)
Alone (Spooky Black and Bobby Raps)
Motionless (Spooky Black and Bobby Raps)


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