Saturday night, Bas’s “Milky Way” tour swirled its way through the Majestic in a rousing performance, even if it took a little while to get there.
Based out of Queens, New York, Bas has worked with artists such as J. Cole and A$AP Ferg in past collaborations. The particularly extensive association with J. Cole arises from Bas’s place on the roster of Dreamville records, J. Cole’s label.
The rapper released several mixtapes in the last few years before releasing his first album, Last Winter.
The “Milky Way” tour follows the 2018 release of Bas’s album of the same name and keeps Bas’s spirit of collaboration alive with the sheer number of guests on the tour. There were three rappers who opened for Bas on the Madison stop — Rexx Life Raj, Innanet and Correy C — and DJs and keyboardists who did not receive their own billings.
Needless to say, this was a long night of music. The nearly three hour show lasted until midnight, with anticipation growing through each opener’s set until Bas took the stage.
Correy C began the night on a comedic note, telling the crowd he had been wearing, “big ass jackets for four days straight.” As the night’s performers were based out of Los Angeles, talk of the Wisconsin chilliness was a recurring theme throughout the evening. While his fifteen-minute set was quite short, his energy built in each song and he ended with his most rousing number.
The next rapper, Innanet, really did me a journalistic solid by spelling his name at the end of the set. His beats were high tempo from the top of his set, yet I couldn’t quite understand the words to his and most others’ sets due to the acoustics of the Majestic.
After personally spending one too many concerts watching an audience member pass out in the middle of a standing room only crowd, I appreciated Rexx Life’s announcement to check up on the concert goers sharing the space around oneself and stay hydrated. As the last of the three opening acts, Rexx Life performed an extended set which periodically included a call-and-response to rile up the crowd for Bas, filling the lovely Majestic with a sea of, “Yee!” Rexx Life inserted plenty of physical energy into his songs, enhancing his performances as a result.
Once Rexx Life left the stage, the full setup for Bas’s landscape rolled on to the stage. Two large, triangular acrylic boxes flanked both sides of the stage with an additional trapezoidal acrylic box labeled “Milky Way” in the center. The lights flicked through these boxes in a dream-like manner as they stood in front of a pastel mural depicting clouds and what appeared to be Bas and a few friends. The show utilized different lighting schemes and fog effects throughout quite effectively, but Bas was still the real star of the night.
What set Bas apart from his collaborators, and frankly from many performers regardless of genre, was his use of varied musical styles to give each of his songs a distinct feel and his mastery of his timbre of his voice to change the emotion of his sound.
For those readers who did not spend about 160 hours of their college lives in a music theory class slaving over terminology, timbre is the quality or color of a sound. It’s what makes a clarinet different than a tuba. The voice is able to change its timbre, making it unique among all instruments.
Rappers — and singers for that matter — can often fall into a monotonous trap in their lines and keep a relatively stagnant timbre to their voice, but Bas’s was dynamic and reflected the vibe he wished to project in each line and the style of each beat.
The first couple of songs felt like a rap version of a smoky jazz nightclub. Musically diverse interludes aided in this feeling and the surrealness of the space in general.
Additional highlights include “Fragrance,” a laid-back collaboration which brought Correy C back out to the stage, and the hi-hat-centric remix of “Housewives.”
Throughout the set, Bas maintained a stable connection with the crowd.
“I know music is my escape,” Bas said. “If you’re here tonight, it’s probably your escape too.”
Indeed, Bas’s dreamy “Milky Way” tour provided a well-executed escape for the entire Majestic crowd. Hopefully, Madison will see his style pass through again as it continues to develop and bloom.