On Wednesday, March 26, the monthly Red Bull Sound Select Presents: Toronto was held at Tattoo, on Queen West. The second installment of this live music showcase was curated by Manifesto, bringing together local talents DJ Lissa Monet, KJ, A l l i e, Shi Wisdom and was headlined by Top Dawg Entertainment’s very own SZA. There wasn’t much of a line just before the doors opened at 8 but it was yet another cold night and since it was a sold out show, most people must have been keeping warm until the venue was open.
DJ Lissa Monet started spinning tracks as fans entered the building, getting everyone dancing before they even had a chance to settle in. From tracks by SZA’s fellow label artists to Toronto’s Rich Kidd, DJ Lissa Monet knew what the crowd wanted and although she wasn’t up on the front stage, she owned the crowd last night. Spinning bangers from before the show even started, between acts, to when it was all over, she set the mood and held it at a constant party vibe.
KJ was the first of the local talents to take the stage. Giving the full house a great start to the night. Having caught a bit of his sound check before the show, KJ was definitely concerned about giving the crowd the best sounds possible and he didn’t disappoint. Starting his three-track set with “Bossed Up,” moving into “Ancient Body Language” and finally finishing off with his latest single “BSY (SAI).” During his performance of “BSY (SAI),” KJ hit a block and forgot his lyrics, after making light of the situation, he continued his performance and left the crowd pleased.
Accompanied on stage by the producer of her Strange Creature EP (2nd Son), A l l i e was ready for her performance just around 9:30pm. Singing her full EP, “Rlctnt Hstlr,” “She Knows,” “Cross My Mind,” and lastly “Just Like That,” A l l i e gave a soulful performance. She had a great energy, interacted with crowd, and even gave her mom and grandparents, who were in the crowd, a shout out.
The audience was excited and pumped up for the final Toronto artist, Shi Wisdom. There were many people familiar with her work, singing along and cheering for her the entire time she was on stage. Shi Wisdom poured her soul into tracks “No Sight Required,” “Easier,” “Penny,” and gave a first time performance of her new song “Young Gunner.” The place went wild for this new track, requesting it again, and Shi Wisdom delivered. Giving a back-to-back performance of her new track, the whole venue was vibing. Ms. Shi Wisdom ended her set with a brief version of “Living In Our Own.”
By 11pm, Top Dawg Entertainment started to set up on stage. A drummer and keyboardist complemented SZA during her first visit to Toronto. When SZA came out on stage, she commented on two things about Toronto, how cold it was and the resemblance to New York she saw, something we can all probably agree with. “Country” was the opening track followed by “Ice Moon” and “Aftermath.” Mid song, SZA paused because she taken aback by how much devotion and enthusiasm the fans had for her and her work.
She continued on with “Wings” and her newer tracks “Babylon” and “Childs Play” featuring Chance the Rapper, she even rapped a little of Chance’s verse. Between songs, SZA shared some of her Jack Daniels with fans and took requests as to what to perform next. Finishing with big crowd pleasers, “Bed” and “Teen Spirit,” SZA sang over a beat expressing how grateful and honoured she was that everyone came out to see her. After about two minutes of leaving the stage, SZA came back out to give another appreciative thank-you.
It was truly another successful night for Red Bull Presents: Toronto, each local artist proving why they were there and dazing the audience with their incredible work. The headliner, SZA showed everyone how she fits in with the rest of the TDE roster; an ability to kill a live performance and reinforcing the Top Dawg Entertainment reputation as a label to watch out for.
Review written by: Alexandria Macdonald for The Come Up Show
Photography by: Tiffany Komon for The Come Up Show