Masego took the stage as the opener for Leon Bridges on Friday night at the Greek Theatre in Berkeley, where he quickly proved he is the worst wingman you could ask for — a wingman who is seductive, smooth as silk and far too capable of stealing your date.
At the opening of his set, Masego rolled up his sleeves — for added sexiness, of course — played a few notes on his keyboard, looped in a few beatboxing sounds and took a sip of water. Immediately, Masego had the crowd going wild for his water-drinking abilities. Not his soothing saxophone playing. Not his impressive impromptu beat-making. Not his charming humor that kept the fans engaged. But his ability to drink what he called “Wakanda juice,” inspired by the hit blockbuster movie “Black Panther.”
Masego is a gentleman, though, and rather than leaving his crowd out to dry, he handcrafted a beat for them to snack on while he rehydrated.
While the crowd was tentative to fully buy into Masego’s jazzy sultriness, by the halfway point of his 45-minute soirée, the audience was swooning. Masego is not to be reduced to just the opening act, as he is a stand-alone artist who could have easily sold out the Greek on his own.
Oftentimes, opening acts are merely tolerated. But Leon Bridges’ precursor could have easily headlined the show. It was one of those rare musically invigorating two-for-one experiences.
As a self-proclaimed doer of everything, Masego maximized his wide array of artistry in the little time he had. He got the night started by playing the saxophone along to his most popular single, “Tadow,” which features his notorious easy-listening beats and drawn-out notes. From there he went on to perform hits from The Pink Polo EP, Loose Thoughts and his freshly released album Lady Lady. Fan favorites included “Navajo,” “Lady Lady” and “Send Yo’ Rita!.”
Masego confidently proclaimed that this was “the best show” of the tour, which may have been true, or may have been a simple “best I ever had” line that he tells all his tour dates. Whichever is true, it was clear that Masego had a thing for the ladies and he was on a search for his sugar momma. His track “Old Age” made it clear that Masego knows age is just a number, and considering the demographics of the show, he may have had luck finding himself his sugar momma.
Leon Bridges seemed to attract an older crowd — meaning upward of 30 in contrast to the youthful college kids that make up the population of UC Berkeley. Because of this, the show simply lacked any jumping and head-screaming or energetic vibes. Still, the crowd swayed along, and the pit became the heartbeat of Masego’s performance — it was clear there were some diehards present.
Arguably, the worst part of any concert is when the artist’s most famous song comes up. In the same instant, a fan’s adrenaline peaks as they know that the most lively part of the concert is coming, but that same fan is immediately overcome with dejection — when “the hit” comes on, it is a sure sign that the show is quickly coming to its end.
For Masego fans, that song was “Girls That Dance.” Still, the upbeat, made-for-radio tune got the fans grooving, and even after the song ended, he hung around for a few minutes to “trap out” with the people of Berkeley. Masego noted that he wasn’t really supposed to trap out, but he had kept things classy all night, he noted. “I got hand tatts!” he said, and he got a little rowdy before finally making his way off the stage.
Summed up, if you haven’t bought into, or at least acknowledged, the musical mastery that Masego possesses, you should.
Contact Christie Aguilar at caguilar[email protected].
The photo accompanying a previous version of this article incorrectly depicted Leon Bridges. In fact, the photo should have depicted Masego.