Taylor Bennett: Coming of Age ft. Cassius Tae, Recoechi, Baha Banks, Chanelle Tru & Surprise Guest Tom Higgenson
Photography by Bobby Talamine
Writing and Editing by Fiza Javid
7/22/22 - Lincoln Hall Venue, Chicago
If there is anything crazier than the realization of a free show, it's a free show to someone who would very well have the capability of selling out a massive venue.
This artist in question is Taylor Bennett, who may have started as being well known for being the younger brother of Chance the Rapper, but is very quickly making a name for himself as not just a talented rapper, but a multi-genre, bisexual artist with an ear for music, a mind for business and a heart of gold.
From start to finish, Taylor's show not only showcased the genuine character an artist that he is, but the ways in which an intellectual mind and business mind can come together to create a ground-breaking show that opens the floor for true Chicago artistry.
Taylor, being an artist from the south-side of Chicago, gathered a group of incredibly talented openers as well: Cassius Tae, Recoechi, Baha Banks and Chanelle Tru, who all came together to showcase the spirit of south side, west side, east side talent, and powerhouse music voices that shine through these neighborhoods. These artists are the very essence of the Chicago music scene.
Prior to the show, Jerry Bryant arrived along with JBTV's on staff local Aussie and Cameraman Wesley Nott, and JBTV photographer Bobby Talamine, at Lincoln Hall to interview Taylor. Together they had an exclusive interview with Taylor as well as caught the action of the sound check. To the surprise of the crew, JBTV Alumni Tom Higgenson of Plain White T's showed up and joined Taylor on stage to do some sound checking as well, which hinted a very unexpected live performance.
The soundcheck alone was a testament to Taylor's hard work the dedication. He kept a watchful eye on all the logistics, timing, as well as the overall feel of the show. Taylor had a street team promoting the event at Pitchfork leading up to this day, and they were prepared to sound check all the way until the minute before doors. Hell, Taylor was even doing push-ups while the sound check was going on.
Each performer was set to showcase one song to give the audience a taste.
First up was Cassius Tae, and if you haven't checked out his music video "WAVERUNNER" you're in for it. His poetic and illustrative lyrics in that song came to life on the stage. We caught the 'sound waves' running, with the hard snare beat, through the audience. This drove the crowd into the right vibe to get the party started.
Chanelle Tru was up next, and the moment her song started, we were hit with strong rock and R&B vibes, which is seldom showcased, but perfect for the theme that Taylor hints with his music. She was the perfect opener, and a show stopper. Sporting army pants with a white bandeau top and voluminous hair, she was bossed up to make sure the sound check was solid, and her voice was truly powerful. Check out "Complicated" by her and Black Wealth Media Group, and you will already know that in a trailblazing song and she’s an en pointe dancer to match it. I must add, the turn out for this crowd was so strong, that it even got the support of managers and artists alike from the Chicago music scene. Among this included the manager of another up-and-coming rapper Brandon Musa who came out as a big fan of Chanelle Tru.
Baha Banks said "TAKE ME TO THE BANK" and truly came out making a name for herself. She is one of the powerful voices that we need for women in hip hop, and I know I don’t even need to bring gender into it. She came out with her backup dancers and their choreography was truly in line and got the crowd into a frenzy. Her beat, her flow, her effortless confidence, and the way she tied her dance moves into the twerk session of her dancers, who did splits and turned their body in ways that I did not think was possible in such a constricted space. If you check out her video "Top 5ive," you already know she means business.
"They put us in the cages for what they made legal, that shit a scam." These words came from, Recoechi who began his set with incredible spoken word about the life of the streets that definitely reminded the room just how necessary these shows are. At the end of the day, the showcase was a testament to the talent that comes through the usually grim picture painted of Chicago neighborhoods. Recoechi's words highlighted that the hardship of growing up in parts of Chicago is still a stark reality that many people in Chicago have to endure, but the way in which these realities get channeled into the poetry and music, that is how these hardships turn into something powerful enough to impact change.
Recoechi is an effortless flow of a narrative rapper, with a crisp and masculine voice, particularly in his song "Want that Feelin." It was a gift to hear his voice reverberate through the audience as a reminder of how important these events are.
Recoechi's song was a powerful note to end the opening act with, and it switched over to a DJ set by DJ Preme and DJ Mike, two master mixers involved with 107.5 WGCI. Together they kept the audience dancing, feeling like they are at an exclusive house party event. One of the highlights of this set was the tribute to Juice WRLD, who DJ Mike used to tour with, along with more tributes to late and great artists like XXXTENACION, and a regular tribute to Travis Scott's music.
The mix of rock and rap in the audience seemed to really push through, and the DJ set was when the party really got started. The room felt like it was bouncing. DJ Mike also through in a Chicago footwork, West Side, South Side ode, which was started by 9pm.
Chicago twerk music is always a classic, like "Bounce and Break your Back" but its hard not to think of Perkulator or K-Swiss if you grew up hearing this as a regular Chicagoan, no matter which neighborhood you were in.
When Taylor's set began at 9:30, the crowd was definitely restless, but watching the bassist and the guitarist get settled on stage was the cue for some audience members to start pushing to the front.
The classic rock graphics shined on the projection screen, with TV screens, vinyls,
an animated Taylor, and a 3D car. There was a feel that this was meant to be in a larger stadium venue.
“I wanted the show to be free because there used to be a free show every week," said Taylor, in classic, humble fashion. It made the show that much better.
His bassist, who is the music director of Taylor's newly released project "Coming of Age" began grooving, as the drummer and guitarist also contributed to the genre switch from rap openers to a rock audience. As I looked over to the audience, I noticed a mix of audience members bobbing their hands like it was a rap show, while the other half was ready to mosh.
Taylor was rocking a shiny TBG, diamond encrusted chain, but again, his humility is what made the vibe right. He opened with "Broad Shoulders" and "Kick Back" before introducing his album. Major highlights were definitely "Favorite Colors," "Fall Short," and "Today." By 10pm the crowd was chanting his name. He even pulled out a trampoline for his second song, which allowed him to jump along with the audience.
"I am an independent artist, and we've been here with the street team, and its beautiful to realize it all still works. We did Good Morning America, Kelly Clarkson, Sirius Vibe, we've been moving man" prior to the start of the album intro.
After a couple songs he made a PSA before "Today." "Mental health is so important and it is something we don't talk about enough. The song I am about to perform is described to be the perfect day versus what be going on. I would like to do this song for you guys, it's very special to me." The audience put one hand up and truly showed their appreciation.
By mid show and the crowd was hollering, Tom Higgenson jumps onto the stage to a screaming audience. No one anticipated the timing at all, and Tom is aging backwards. Tom sang part of "Today" with him and no one knew what to expect. When the song ended, that was when Taylor asked Tom to perform "Hey There Delilah."
"Are you guys ready to sing Hey There Delilah with Tom Higgenson?"
Genre switch again! But the audience lived for it, and everyone knew the words to every bit of that song.
Taylor performed "Don't Wait Up," "Be Yourself," "Dancing in the Rain," "Sunset Falls" the album outro and closed with "Easy Outside." I'd say by this point half the audience lost their voice and had an absolute blast. As for myself, I feel lucky to have had the first listen of this album live, and if you have a chance to check out Taylor Bennett when he returns to Chicago, whether you are a rock or rap fan, he truly has something for everyone.
Be sure to check out the exclusive JBTV interview with Jerry Bryant and Taylor Bennett soon! Full marathons of JBTV will be on VPODTV on Fridays and Saturdays from midnight-2am. Until next time, this is Fiza with JBTV Music Television.
Coming of Age