Setting the stage for a band as revered as The 1975 is no small feat, but indie-rock and hip-hop band BLACKSTARKIDS emerged victorious.
Feverish anticipation shrouded Bill Civic Graham Auditorium in San Francisco on the night of Nov. 29, and BLACKSTARKIDS pierced this veil with confidence and energy. Taking inspiration from iconic acts such as Weezer, Outkast and Missy Elliott, BLACKSTARKIDS have created a sound entirely their own — one that translated into anarchic perfection live on stage.
As band members Deiondre, TheBabeGabe and TyFaizon stepped into the spotlight, their presence was unshakeable. The band’s wardrobe aesthetic mixed vivid retro pieces with ’90s staples such as oversized blazers, checkered skirts and fuzzy hair ties. Though they had not yet said a single word, their loud outfits and distinct style spoke for themselves.
Then, the speakers announced, “Self destruction in five, four, three, two,” promising a chaotic set and inviting the crowd to let loose.
BLACKSTARKIDS lit the fuse of the night with “How To Self Destruct*,” making for an unforgettable opening. As the crowd began to ease into the abrasive melody and pulsing lights, the band gave no time for breaks. TheBabeGabe and TyFaizon leaped on the stage, dancing to the clean flow of their lyrics.
“You guys are f—cking awesome,” TyFaizon said with a laugh as the crowd devoured the pulsing, hair-whipping energy of their second track.
“That was f—cking insane!” TheBabeGabe concurred.
“F—cking insane” was an apt observation. BLACKSTARKIDS’ energy proved completely contagious, turning cool nods into grinning, whipping heads.
In their genre-bending latest record CYBERKISS*, released Sept. 23, BLACKSTARKIDS bring together elements from ’90s inspired hip-hop, techno and punk rock. What some might regard as mismatch and dissonance, BLACKSTARKIDS reclaim as uniqueness, and the fluidity of their musical style only added to the explosive quality of their unpredictable set.
Though this new record was electric live, the stand-out song of the night was unmistakably “Frankie Muniz”. Released on their 2020 album Whatever, Man, the track boasts a mellower aura while maintaining the signature BLACKSTARKIDS flow.
“I fell in love with еvery little thing about you/ You broke my heart in thе summer what am I s’posed to do?” Deiondre sang, the bittersweet lyrics of teenage heartbreak tempering the hip-hop beat.
It was on this track that Deiondre’s vocals completely shined, his clear voice and the addictive hook fully engaging the crowd. “Frankie Muniz” was the perfect break in the middle of their eclectic set, switching the audience’s gears from jumping and dancing to swaying in tune with the melody.
Though BLACKSTARKIDS immersed the crowd in their neon soundscape, the band remained compassionate and grounded. When a crowd member fainted and dropped to the ground, audience members began calling for the band’s attention, worried the frenzied crowd might injure the individual. TyFaizon was quick to act, pausing the performance and calling for water.
“If you need anything at all, please let us know,” he said, the other band members nodding in full agreement. It was in this moment of sincerity that the band showed its genuine kindness — the wellbeing of their fans took precedence over any performance.
Though this interruption was slightly jarring, the band bounced back without skipping a beat. Soon, the crowd was back to dancing and cheering as different sides of the room competed for the most energy. BLACKSTARKIDS’ ability to read the audience’s emotions and reflect it with their music is what elevated their performance from great to stellar.
“We’re so grateful to you guys and The 1975,” said TyFaizon. Upon hearing mentions of the show’s headliner, the crowd went wild with exhilaration.
“It means a lot that they gave our sh—t a chance,” TyFaizon said of The 1975. “They believed in us back when people thought our sh—t was weird.”
The band came a long way from the lukewarm nods during the opening track, ending their set with heart hands and huge waves from the buzzing crowd. By the time the band was finished, the crowd was completely won over by their rebellious charm and endearing humility.
San Francisco made fast friends with BLACKSTARKIDS, and from overheard whispers of “Woah, that was actually really cool” and “That sh–-t was crazy!” from the crowd, it’s clear that BLACKSTARKIDS are welcome back anytime.