Nov 26, 2018

@HERMusicx's I Used to Know Her Tour: Brooklyn Steel (a recap by @RamseySaidWHAT)

An eventful Thanksgiving weekend might have cost my car a smooth 300 miles but it was totally worth it.

Where most of you got to spend time in the living room in the living room eating soul food with your families, I got to do that AND MORE. After catching Ja Rule in Atlantic City and Creed II (soundtrack and score is fire by the way) in theaters. I got to make up a birthday present for Shorty last year. I secured H.E.R. tickets for her Brooklyn stop of the I Used to Know Her Tour. I'll put you in the room as best as possible.

I'll start with a story. The reason this is a make up present is because a year before we arrived late and missed half of H.E.R's set on Bryson Tiller's Tour at Radio City. H.E.R was the reason we were going in the first place and I dropped the ball. You know I was punctual this time around. We arrived in time for sets from DJ Aktive, Jersey's own Tone Stith, and Philly native, Bri Steves. All of them are crazy talented with beautiful voices. Tone can dial up a fallsetto on cue whenever he feels like it with ridiculous control. Bri Steves is a fun performer and has a versatile voice gritty enough for rap and sultry enough for the blues. The mix of her crossover skill and her personality makes her pleasantly sexy. She's funny and treats the crowd like she's having a one on one conversation, but with music.

The lights go down and DJ Scratch asks a question that everyone in the crowd answered in a lie.


There is no way in heaven or hell we could have prepared for the experience that preceded us. Before the lighting man crescendos strobes down to the stage and crowd, guitar arpeggios brightly round to the tune of Carried Away. Her very animated backup singers greet the crowd and the band grows louder. The lights go down again and in enters a spotlight follows the big hair figure we have all memorized in our heads. H.E.R enters stage right and begins serenading the sold out Brooklyn Steel. Before the song ends she makes her way through a bunch of instruments including acoustic and electric guitars, and then a pair of drum sticks. She doesn't stop playing at the end of songs. She plays the percussion to the next song while the melody rings from the last. When the Carried Away ends the drum set player carries on the boom bap that HER began. She chucks deuces into the air and the band begins playing 2. It all sounds like one long song and I think it's wonderful. One of the best that does it next to George Clinton.

Finally the song ends and she introduces herself before the next track. She goes through Vol. 2 and her prelude EPs before taking us back to Vol. 1's classics. I should have been prepared to go to my second service of the day because it was church in that ballroom. Best Part may be a song of this generation one day. Live is just as good as the studio version. I think everyone held their breath thinking Daniel Caesar would come on stage but they played the first few words of his verse before her male backup showed out for the ladies in the crowd. If you never experienced love before listen to this song and catch it live if you can because WOW. Her crowd participation is dope, and you should have seen what it looked like when everyone held their phone up during her performance of Lights On.

I swear no one in this crowd missed a lyric throughout this whole show. Like her music, we went on a roller coaster journey of love, longing, vulnerability and more during this set. I think one of the biggest moments came during her performance of Could've Been. It starts the way her live one does on her Up Next Session with Apple Music. DJ Scratch mixes that perfectly with verse two on the EP. Before you can think about it the crowd goes wild and Bryson Tiller joins her on stage. The two croon to each other with mere feet between them. I won't be cliche and say they are dating but one begs to question. Tiller then performs Exchange and exits but not before praising his former tour-mate. The icing on the cake was her performing Make it Rain with her acoustic. I told you earlier it was church and when she ended a few Hallelujahs blared out and someone even fainted not far from us. Turns out it was a dude. Humbly she threw her water bottle into the crowd to help the man in need. She jokes about how she felt like Michael Jackson because that never happened to her before.

I must say that I'm glad I got to smell the flowers early. I may have been one of the first on the HER wagon when Vol. 1 first dropped. It's not about who heard it first because music is meant to be shared. I'm not sure anyone saw H.E.R. topping the resurgence of R&B and becoming as big as she is. Brooklyn Steel may be as intimate of a show as you'll see H.E.R. from now on. I enjoy my R&B on a small scale. Coffee House Jazz feel. Where she doesn't have a large catalogue of music yet, she very well become a megastar. Small stages and standing room only ballrooms are going to become theaters, festivals, and stadiums. They already are as I type. The now Brooklyn native, is huge and I'm thankful that I got to see it from the beginning. I fear (but in a good way, I think) that I'll never get to experience her any more personal than I had November 25th. There's no other way to say it but it was beautiful. Her voice is so raw. Her backup is just as talented. She's such a musician and her riffs and runs give you goosebumps. You can literally feel the hair standing up your spine. You need to see her as soon as you can before you gotta break the bank. That day is coming, soon. This is probably one of the best live shows I've ever seen since covering music and that's real.
Jonathan C. Ramsey
Jonathan C. Ramsey

Multimedia Journalist, Founder and Chief Editor of WTM Host of A-Side B-Side Podcast and more. I like to talk about stuff and write it down. Sometimes to a microphone. Either way, I need you to feel this.

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