Shad hits Calgary with his Flying Colours Tour [Review]
Calgary, AB – On Nov. 27, the good folks over at The Union brought Shad to Calgary to perform a sold-out show at Republik Nightclub. After the launch of his Flying Colours project back in October, Shad decided to hit the solo tour circuit. He had just wrapped a few shows down in the U.S., and made his way back up north to end his tour in Western Canada. It was one of the best nights that Calgary has had in a while.
Shad comes across as a really down-to-earth dude. He’s friendly, he’s enthusiastic, and he has excellent teeth. Seriously, he has one of the most infectious smiles ever. It’s so white and dazzling. Crest should really consider a sponsorship with him.
Watching Shad perform is like watching a film with someone who’s already seen the movie and gets really geeked on seeing it again – like, “This is the best part! This is the best part!” Except with Shad, it’s all the best part. He gets so stoked on his own performance that he jumps around for every single song. He is his own hype man. He is the human embodiment of the “flying” part of Flying Colours. Because he is –quite literally– flying around the stage.
But despite his sheer enthusiasm, Shad is also one of the most humble MCs around. He came up on the scene as a very self-depricating rapper. And it’s very evident that he still doubts himself from time-to-time. He actually asked the audience for permission to play his older material. Though he may not have realized it, his all-encompasing discography is actually what most people came to see. Yes, Flying Colours is having its moment in the spotlight right now. But classics like “Rock To It” and “Rose Garden” are just as important to the fans.
Early on in the set, Shad whipped out some versing over Pusha T’s “Numbers On The Boards” (that really dope joint off My Name Is My Name that was produced by Kanye West), before transitioning into the second verse from “Yaa I Get It.” Shad is definitely not a hard rapper, by any means. But he can take a hard beat (like said beat from “Numbers On The Boards”) and own it.
The Shad fangirls were dressed in rose crowns. This may have been an ode to the track, “Rose Garden.” Or I could be reading too far into it all. It’s probably just a fashion trend, or something. Either way, those ladies were looking adorable. The thing about Shad’s fans is that they are all kind of like Shad – they fit in because they don’t fit in. The fan-base is a conglomeration of awkward solo show-goers, closeted hip-hop heads, underground aficionados, non-heads, and everyone else in between. They’re less inclined to start grinding on one another. But at the same time, they’re not afraid to get a bit freaky on the dance floor (we’re talking full-on ’90s bust-a-moves). Like Shad, his fans are all unapologetically stoked on the music. Most of the folks at the front of the stage were able to spit the lyrics to every single track (not just the popular ones), word-for-word. These fans are walking Rap Geniuses. And they have nothing but love for the king Kabango.
The crowd seemed to think that “Remember To Remember” was the last song on the bill. The track would have been a solid predictable way to cap off the night. But Shad took things up a notch. That is, he successfully reduced the crowd to a puddle of deep pensive contemplation. The set wrapped up just before midnight with a seven-minute track. And it wasn’t even a track. It was the most heart-wrenching piece of spoken word that’s graced the Republik stage in a while. It was “Outro: Long Jawn.” On Flying Colours, Shad verses the track over a beat. But at the show, he didn’t.
“Long Jawn” takes a bunch of Shad’s verses and mashes them up into seven minutes of narrative dialogue. Hearing the verses out of context gives them new meaning. Every rhyme was an Oprah “Aha!” moment for the crowd (even though they already knew the lyrics). Take this one, for example: “T.O. knows/I’m like a Benz/In this city of Fords.” Because Rob Ford. And crack. It’s that much more relevant now.
The long “Long Jawn” performance ended with all of that real talk: the “real girls over drama queens” and the “real world over college dean philosophy.” Shad left the stage and everyone was a mess of feelers and emotions. But it was a good mess of feelers – the type that makes you want to go listen to Flying Colours again. And again. And again. I’m not even kidding: I came home and listened to “Outro: Long Jawn,” again. And again. It was on repeat for a couple of days. And I doubt I’ve even scratched the surface on catching on to all of the rhymes.