Bramlage Coliseum was packed floor to exits Thursday night with eager music-lovers taking advantage of an opportunity to relieve some end of the year stress. UPC, along with K-State Proud and Student Foundation, brought singer, songwriter and rapper Jon Bellion, along with openers Kane & Trey and Pell, to perform for an anticipating Manhattan audience.
Kane & Trey, a local artist self-described as “the best of The Script combined with the creativity of John Mayer,” opened up the concert with a seamless mashup of songs including “Black Beatles” by Rae Sremmurd, “No Problem” by Chance the Rapper and other contemporary hits.
This use of covers as a start of their set provided a great invitation for the crowd to bridge the gap of generally not knowing this smaller artist.
The duo of Kane Comfort and Trey Dice, with the addition of their steadfast percussionist known simply as “Blaze,” followed up with original songs with titles including “I Want to Walk” and “I’m on Fire,” which, as Kane assured the audience, proved to live up to its name of being “lit.”
Kane & Trey put on a very engaging show, especially for as minimalistic as it had to be as an opener; most of the stage was dedicated to the instruments of the groups to follow.
The group seems a promising young band with a lot of musical talent, especially in Kane’s vocals, as well as invoking a lot of K-State spirit in their set, thanking the audience repeatedly for the hospitality of their fellow K-State family members.
Following this trio, Pell took the stage to keep Cattywampus rolling. Pell, a rapper from New Orleans, established immediately his set was going to be one that expelled infectious energy from start to finish.
Pell, accompanied simply by a drummer and a backing track, took to hyping up the crowd with calls and responses of “Pell yeah” as he bounded across the stage.
Pell’s drummer was equally a contributor to the energy of this performance, possibly even breaking a drumstick at one point.
I’m not even entirely sure, but if my eyes didn’t trick me, there is a strong chance a splintering of drumstick went bursting like a flock of aggressive, wooden birds taking flight about the drum kit during an instrumental break.
Unfortunately, Pell’s performance was detracted by a mismatch of levels between vocalist, drummer and backing track. The drum was an overpowering force during the set, however, I would also say the drum provided a vital driving force for the music.
If anything could be improved, the vocals and backing track would need to be brought to the level of the drums (if possible, obviously speakers and equipment only have a certain capacity) for a much more encompassing blend.
Additionally, for both opening acts, the atmosphere worked against them somewhat as a good number of lights were left on during Kane & Trey’s set and nearly all the lights remained lit during Pell’s.
Given, it is much easier to navigate the Bramlage Coliseum stairs when you’re fully able to see, but a significant amount of confidence is lost in terribly good (emphasis on terribly) dancing when you’re all too visible to a coliseum full of potential onlookers witnessing any and all of your sick moves.
Finally, the main act.
Jon Bellion and his band put on a spectacle for everyone in attendance.
Bellion appeared on stage with an immediately humble air, absolutely giddy about a stage with a runway stretching into the overjoyed crowd, which he took full advantage of throughout the concert.
Even when talking about the Double Platinum status of his song “All Time Low,” or the success of his sophomore album “The Human Condition,” he kept appreciation of his fans and his fellow band members at a constant forefront.
Consistently throughout the concert, he opted for a modest, conversational charm which immediately won over the crowd and maintained a rapport of admiration coupled with a feeling of being welcomed into the world this concert was creating.
I was especially impressed with the musicality of the group as a whole.
Relatively often, it seems to me, artists whose studio recordings are predominantly in a higher register find themselves having a hard time fully delivering that for live performances.
This was never even remotely an issue for Bellion.
His vocal performance, as well as the group as a whole, completely lived up to any studio version, and more.
The group’s ability to function so well together as one effective musical unit was incredibly impressive, especially as Bellion pulled several “audibles” in the set, taking the set into new directions on a whim, followed wholeheartedly and adeptly by his group.
About halfway through the show, Bellion impromptu decided he wanted to stray from the set list and transition into a bit of a softer song.
His band then built for him, part by part, an unrehearsed ad hoc performance of “Luxury,” aptly described as “delicious” by Bellion during the musical construction, easily on par with any other portion of the show.
Additionally, at one point, Bellion, his drummer and the bass guitarist got into an elaborate call and response beat box battle with the audience acting as a collective judge, only to be amazed beyond critique.
All in all, an incredible show on the part of Jon Bellion and his group.
The musicality was flawless throughout, the presentation had a constant forward energy, keeping the crowd invested and moving. The show maintained its high energy in every instance from the riffing guitar solos to the subdued belt of the more lyrical pieces.
Bellion and his band showed in their performance tonight the group of incredibly capable and talented performers they are, able of creating an ideal concert recipe of refreshing spontaneity, genial connection and enthralling musicality.
A very big thank you to UPC, K-State Proud, StuFo, and everyone involved in organizing this event and bringing this talent to our K-State family.