Just before the audience chanted for an encore performance, Chancellor Warhol breathed into the mic, “we do it for y’all.” And this Nashville native most certainly did it for his listeners this past Friday at Mercy Lounge. The alternative/electro rap style performance was charged with a ridiculous amount of passion, dedication, and commitment to art, Music City, and culture, and it was evident in every movement and sound that was emitted from the stage.
Rush Midnight, Russ Manning’s Brooklyn-based act, began the evening around 10pm with a set of electronic but melodic songs that gave the local audience a different flavor of music to sample. Nightbox, Rush Midnight’s touring partner, was unfortunately unable to make the show due to illness, but Manning’s performance was enough to suffice. After this treat of an opener, Chancellor Warhol (Antonio Dewayne Boleyjack) assumed the stage and possessed the room as soon as he preached his first line. A drummer and keys player accompanied him on stage, and the three men created a synergy that entranced the audience in the hour-long performance that ended too quickly. As the drummer bounced at his instrument and the keys player managed all the necessary musical elements, Warhol owned his spot on stage while red and gold lighting framed his figure and sound in a perfectly dramatic way that emphasized the themes of his songs. His loyalty to his city and art was impossible to ignore, and it was extremely evident that the opportunity to perform in his hometown was as much an honor to him as it was to his audience.
Blasts of air could be felt from the speakers, and the bass rattled the floor. All the while, Warhol explored every platform of the stage, taking moments to pose on the speakers and interact with the beats. Every movement had intentions, from his hand motions to the visceral reactions to his speech. The chemistry between his musical assistants on stage was as alluring as his performance, and the consistency of talent met and exceeded every expectation in the room, as made evident by the elevated energies of the spectators. Complex rhythm structures were paired with memorable hooks, and Warhol’s attention to words and phrasing displayed an unparalleled skill. Having recently released Paris Is Burning, a 10-track album, back in March, the set list intertwined tracks from his past projects with selections from this new collection. “Kennedy’s” and “Nothing(OK)” were true moments this past Friday night, and Warhol made it a point to stress these new works.
Since his first release in 2010, Japanese Lunchbox, to his most current one, Warhol always commits to creating his best. But beyond the creative process and production, he continues to commit himself to his audience and to his relationship with them on and off stage. The audience’s enjoyment seemed as important to him as the music he performed. On several occasions he leveled himself with the audience, jumping off stage to the floor and encouraging people to form an arc around him. He made eye contact with every person he could, spoke and rapped lines directly to specific individuals, and made sure he established some kind of interactive relationship with every person there.
After the show Warhol made an effort to greet his listeners. This may seem like a common thing to do, especially in Nashville, but what made this action different was his intention behind talking to those who had just witnessed him on stage. He talked with people in order to understand how they found out about the show, what drew them to the venue, and how they felt about the music. It was about the audience not the artist, and he was as sincere of a person as he was a performer.
For those of you who missed this performance at Mercy Lounge, purchase yourself a copy of Paris Is Burning, and give some love and listens to this local talent. Chancellor Warhol does not seem to focus on himself or his fame; he focuses on art, his listeners, and his audience. And with a mission like that, there is no doubt that Chancellor Warhol will continue to make Nashville proud.
– Katie A.