It was pretty much impossible to not succumb to the R&B-induced chill at Musiq Soulchild's show last night at the Pageant, because it started even before the talented, St. Louis-based, opener OLI, and his duo of lithe, tightly clad lady dancers began their performance under cool, electric-blue lighting.
The venue was already loosely packed with an exceptionally laid-back, twenty-something crowd when I arrived at 7:30 p.m. A throng of mostly young, attractive black men sported dark, oversized glasses and tilted hats, while the women accompanying them accessorized in gold hoops and multiple bangle bracelets. All engaged in the animated conversation of anticipation.
When Musiq finally appeared, around 9:30 p.m., in his standard aviator sunglasses and white oxford under an oversized navy blue, silver-studded pinstripe suit (with suspenders peeking out below the vest . . . yummy!), an audible burst of energy went through the crowd, which Musiq acknowledged by starting with his faster-paced hit, "B.U.D.D.Y." The song induced many stragglers, including myself, in the periphery to move to the “dance floor” of the Pageant in front of the stage.
Musiq encouraged audience participation throughout the show; most enthusiastically responded, finishing the lyrics for him while he held the mic, maybe most notably during ''Halfcrazy." Peak moments included the mid-concert "Teach Me," which Musiq soulfully crooned from a bar stool, the first and only time he used the prop, and a personal favorite, the classic ''Just Friends," which culminated in a free-style, funky remix that bordered on rap.
Musiq's backup singers and band were dressed in street clothes, and it accentuated the casual coolness of the music, as well as Musiq’s indisputable stardom. As the crowd slowly drifted out after the encore, it was plain that, for many, the weight of the workweek had been transformed into the calm vibrance good soul provokes.