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December 11, 2017

Aer and Dizzy Wright impress at the Pearl Street Ballroom

The first time I ever regretted showing up late to a concert was on Thursday at the Pearl Street Ballroom. I arrived comfortably an hour after the 8 p.m. start time assuming I would catch the end of the opener – a rapper I had never heard of called Dizzy Wright – before seeing Aer without testing my patience too much.

Bass shook the ceiling above the will call counter. No one lingered outside smoking and talking, which was alarming because I did not think people ever stopped smoking outside of Pearl Street Nightclub.
It turns out all the smokers had simply taken their habits indoors. Stepping into the venue, I saw Wright passing a joint mid-song to another performer, then the audience responding with a few brave puffs of smoke as well. Security was in for a long night.

Both Wright and Aer, the latter being the rap duo of David von Mering and Carter Schultz, made their love of marijuana apparent during their sets. Despite a common interest, however, their styles parted ways; Dizzy Wright presented a more classic hip-hop sound with a strong rock undertones while Aer performed with their lighthearted, pop rap songs. The Chicago-based singer/songwriter Njomza Vitia also opened the show with her blend of hypnotic pop and rap.

Wright’s heavy use of drums behind all his songs stood out most and gave his music a fast-paced rock vibe; a tempo he easily matched with his lyrics. He impressed not just with his energy and talent but also with his lyrics. A surprisingly positive rapper with an aggressive delivery, Wright left the audience buzzing for more.“Make some noise if you love yourself!” shouted Wright before his last song.

Keeping with the momentum, Aer stormed the stage after a short intermission and performed one of the duo’s new songs with an unexpected hip-hop flare. Seamlessly transitioning into one of its older hits, “Feel I Bring” soon after, Aer showed the range and the artistic transformation that the two have made since their first few mixtapes. Aer made for an interesting duo onstage. Von Mering spent the show strapped to his guitar, while Shultz was crowd surfing by the fourth song. Chants of “Fresh Aer Movement” ripped through the crowd; whatever style they were going for – that be hip-hop, acoustic, pop, or rap – was working.

Aer showed a lighter, pop-like sound when it played “Pretty Lady” and “Says She Loves Me” back-to-back toward the middle of its set. Occasionally playing songs that had a more serious hip-hop sound, von Mering and Shultz usually fell back into their comfortable style of reggae rock, with the soft vocals and rap that was prominent on their first album.

Later in the show Shultz introduced a song explaining, “This song is called Ex, it may remind you of someone, sorry about that.” While not quite there yet, it is obvious that Aer is making an effort to get more in touch with its emotions and write more meaningful, relatable lyrics. A more mature sound may be the last hurdle Aer has to jump before making the meaningful music that the duo is aiming for. Yet, for now, audiences are still loving Aer’s comfortable, west coast hip-hop style.

Alone, neither of these artists would start a movement, but together on tour, they just work.

Sarah Robertson can be reached at srobertson@umass.edu.

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