Image via @070shake on Instagram
When I was presented with the opportunity to go to New Jersey singer 070 Shake‘s Sacramento tour stop, I couldn’t have been happier. After having extensive conversations with opener and close collaborator Johan Lenox, the show was sure to be one to remember — especially considering the unique nature of both artists’ music.
As I walked up to the venue, Lenox greeted me at the door and (due to the venue’s reluctancy to let us in early) we were able to have a chat outside prior to the show, going over his tour experience following the release of his newly released debut album What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Up. Johan’s set was a last-minute addition to the 070’s show, explaining: “It was cool that the tour happened because I feel like sometimes you drop music and then it’s just anticlimactic, you just promote it and just kinda sit around and watch numbers go up.”
His latest release has been anything but anticlimactic, as he receives praise from fans and peers alike for his distinctive use of classical, pop, hip-hop and R&B elements throughout the project. Johan’s gratitude for Shake’s invitation was apparent throughout our conversation as he reveled in the opportunity to share his music with her ever-growing audience.
“These have been way bigger [than previous shows], like we did Terminal 5 with [070 Shake] which was 3000 people in New York for one night, which is sick. It’s been so cool and fun, and most of them don’t know who I am yet but it’s a cool opportunity to hopefully try and win over some new fans. It’s cool seeing that happen in real-time… I kind of expected a Kanye, Travis [Scott] kind of audience, and I think there’s some of that in there, but she’s playing to a much more gentle and positive and supportive audience. They’ve been really welcoming.”Johan Lenox
Given his background as a classical composer, it’s no surprise that Johan has used this chance to present a one-of-a-kind performance featuring a couple of accompanying violin players, revealing that he has had to find new performers for every stop, some of whom have never heard his music before the sound check. His composition work seems never-ending as he talked about string arrangements he has done on recent projects by Shake, KayCyy, Fivio Foreign and more as well as upcoming collaborations he’s working on while on tour, saying, “I’ve done a few string arrangements for people while I was on the road because I just try to say yes to everything people ask for.”
Regarding his own music, he’s looking to stray further from the pop sound of WDYWTBWYGU to do more experimental material as his next release is “pretty much just classical music with features.” Titled Isomonstrosity, this collaborative project will join the efforts of seven composers and some of our favorite rappers and singers, resulting in a more unorthodox sound.
After catching up with Johan for an hour, I started prepping for the show as concert-goers began to shuffle into the venue in a single file line that wrapped around two blocks. The relatively small venue was packed from end to end with a small walkway for the bar, muddied by the sounds of hidden DJ playing songs from hardcore rap to mellow indie rock.
After a few minutes, Johan appeared onstage accompanied by two violinists, trading his casual t-shirt and baggy pants for a vest adorned with chains and pockets over an all-black outfit. As the crowd murmured with curiosity, he wasted no time introducing them to his catalog of tracks, performing both older and new tracks to a brand-new audience. Attendees began to catch the rhythm as the Boston-born artist ran through his catalog, adding new verses for a few of his latest tracks.
As his set went on, more and more of the crowd began to find themselves dancing to tracks off of WDYWTBWYGU and his previous projects as Johan danced emphatically to the sound of his songs. By the end of his performance, new fans were pulling up his Spotify profile to find out more about this mysterious character with such an unorthodox style.
Another half-hour went by before 070 Shake graced the stage with her presence, coming out to an intense hum as she spoke a couple of words of wisdom. The instrumentals for her tracks could be felt as much as they were heard as bass vibrated the whole room to complement 070’s autotuned crooning. As this was the first show since the release of her latest album You Can’t Kill Me, fans were treated to the first performances of tracks such as “Skin and Bones” and “Cocoon” as well as older hits like “Guilty Conscience” and “Microdosing.”
Pausing only to give wholesome monologues about self-love and friendship, Shake treated her audience to an evening of beautiful tracks with varying atmospheres, taking the crowd on a musical journey of melodies and moshpits. She performed for over an hour, keeping everyone entranced by her hypnotic tracks and soft-spoken speeches until she finished out the set with a rendition of her contribution to Kanye’s “Ghost Town.”
All in all, both 070 Shake and Johan Lenox blew their sets out of the water with their fantastic performances. You Can’t Kill Me and What Do You Want To Be When You Grow Upnare easily two of the most artistically unique projects of 2022 so far — and seeing it live was just an out-of-body experience.