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Young Fathers @ Boot and Saddle with Mas Ysa, Yikes the Zero and Radio Ghost.

April 13, 2015

Young Fathers (25 of 35)Text and images by Grace Dickinson.

Young Fathers played Boot and Saddle on Saturday, bringing an assault of energy to the stage.

The three men – a Liberian, a Nigerian and a Scotsman – took turns not only soloing on the mic, but also breaking out into dance solos that made it impossible not to bounce along with them. They had moves. And individual talent that enabled each to stand alone, yet also create seamless harmonies with the childhood friends that stood beside them.

The multiracial trio met when they were just 14-years old at an under-16 hip-hop night in Edinburgh. The more than decade-long period they’ve spent with one another since is made evident when the three get up on stage. Together, they are able to sustain a continuous and building blend of rap and gospel-like lyricism, which itself often carries both a heavy political and emotional tone. This synthesized singing gets paired with poppy percussion-recorded tracks and a drummer that they bring along on tour. In fact, the drummer should not be forgotten. He, too, delivered an equally energetic performance, flailing his arms, and at times, dramatically plopping himself to the floor during pauses in his set.

On tour for their latest, White Men Are Black Men Too, Young Fathers recently won a slightly controversial Mercury award in 2014 for “Best New Album.” Still somewhat of an unknown name to many, it came largely as a surprise, and even still, it’s clear that the band remains in the process of making their recognition wider. While they played to a sold-out show the night before in Brooklyn, Boot and Saddle remained half-empty through until the end of their show. Although, also clear, the audience certainly didn’t leave night feeling half-satisfied. From their piercing stares to their constant hip-shaking, Young Fathers is a band to see live. Get enough people to their on-stage performances, and likely it won’t take much longer until their name becomes established.

Opening for Young Fathers was Mas Ysa, delivering intense, space-like electro jams and equally intense, emotional facial expressions. Yikes the Zero with Radio Ghost also opened up, a fun, Philadelphia-based rap collaboration.

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