Not going to lie, I was a little hesitant when walking into Amsterdam Bar & Hall last night. It’s not that I wasn’t excited for the show because, let’s be honest, I’m always excited for a show. It was more that I was cautiously optimistic about what I was going to get from it. I had never heard of the two openers before but knew the headliner. Having seen Missio (the headliner) before, I wasn’t quite sold on their live show yet. The last time I saw them they were an opening act for a headliner that I truly just couldn’t get into so I felt like I didn’t give them a fair chance. I’m all about second, third and eighty-fifth chances so there I was, waiting to see if I would finally understand the hype behind this band.

With a belly full of Mexican food from my favorite spot in Saint Paul, my friend and I arrived to the show just in time to grab a drink that we clearly didn’t have room for and catch opener Swells take the stage. I was instantly captivated by vocalist Taylor Baker. Not only was she downright beautiful, she had a voice that was absolutely stunning. Stretching notes out to the most perfect length and dancing around the infectious beats like a professional, Swells may not be what I listen to on a daily basis but it is definitely something I enjoyed watching live. It was easy to hear Swells’ influences in their music. From Sylvan Esso to Phantogram, there were clear nods to other greats in the dream-like soundscape that Swells produced but there was also a clear sense of Swells being their own band. Again, not my cup of tea but I respected Swells’ set and will definitely be keeping my eye on them as they inevitably grow.

What happened next left my friend and I absolutely stunned. Again, I went into this show being cautiously optimistic and after Swells’ set I was getting the feeling that this would be a good show but not quite for me. That’s when Blackillac took the stage and changed my entire outlook on the night. Having heard what Swells had to offer up and knowing what Missio sounded like, I expected the entire show to kind of be this dreamy, futuristic style of pop music with a little bit of an edge. The duo that is Blackillac took the stage and changed that whole idea. They wasted no time when it came to jumping into their out of control and fun set of some of the best hip-hop I’ve heard in years. For being a Tuesday night, a sleepy audience was kind of expected but Blackillac didn’t let anyone snooze through their set. An instant command of stage and crowd had me turning to my friend in just seconds and declaring my love for these two men.

The world seems to be full of mumble rappers these days. Now, don’t get me wrong, I love to indulge in the mumble rap every now and then and do have a thing for all of the “Lil’s” and their terrible face tattoos but Blackillac’s music and energy is the breath of fresh air that that scene needs right now. With lyrics that were easy to understand and lyrics that, although at times a bit racey, stayed within the realm of non-offensive, Blackillac instantly became my new favorite. I truly can’t say enough about this duo’s energy. Tuesday night or not, work in the morning or not, these guys treated the modest crowd like it was a sold out Friday night show and that definitely added to their charm. Clearly proud to be from Austin, Texas (they rap about it often and kept mentioning it between songs), I can not pray enough that they start coming up to the Twin Cities more often. I know it’ll be a trek for them but their wholesome and fun style of hip-hop fits in beyond perfectly to the local rap and hip-hop scene that I have found myself immersed in lately. Can you tell I was absolutely in love with Blackillac? As excited as I was to give Missio another chance, I had already made up my mind– Blackillac stole last night’s show and they are definitely going to be a household name within no time.

I honestly felt bad for Missio. I mean, let’s be honest, how were they going to blow me away after having fallen head over heels for Blackillac? After a somewhat lengthy set change, the trio took the stage and did their best to compete. The backdrop for Missio was super eye-catching. With multi-colored lights flashing and swirling around the audience, Missio definitely had stepped up their live show game from the last time I saw them. Their energy was on point and they clearly had the entire audience eating out of the palm of their hand with every word that passed. Their distinct almost futuristic pop-rock sound blasted through the speakers with a sense of force that seemed to match their electric energy. As much as I had it stuck in my mind that Blackillac had stolen the show, Missio definitely gave them a run for their money.

Missio played over a dozen songs and I was honestly shocked at how many I had actually heard before. I’m not one to listen to top-40 radio so most of my music comes from random playlists that I let play during the day at work. I realized about half way through that the reason I had heard so many songs by Missio before had to be because of only one thing- their ability to camouflage into so many different genres. From indie to pop, metal to rock, rap to EDM, Missio is one of those few bands that is truly blending the genre lines and making it seem easy. It’s this characteristic that had every song feeling a little different than the last yet still clearly being part of the same set. I walked in hoping I would understand this band a little bit more than I did last time I saw them and I definitely walked out with that new understanding. Still not 100% for me, Missio made me a fan last night just by their pure energy and genuine love for the scene.

I stand by what I said. Blackillac hands down stole the show last night but Swells was an amazing opening act and Missio definitely had me sold. I walked into last night’s show being cautiously optimistic and walked out with a new favorite band and a new appreciation for another one. Go to the show even if you think you know what you’re going to get. Majority of the time you will get even more than expected.

Line Up:

Swells

Blackillac

Missio

Venue: Amsterdam Bar & Hall

Sausage Fest Meter- 6 out of 10

Average Age of the Crowd- 19

Crowd Surfers- None

Dance-Ability- 4.1 out of 10

Stage Divers- None

Broken Bones- 0

Spotted Flying Through The Air- Nothing

Fights- 0

Pukers- 0

Drunkards Taken Out By Security- 0

Celebrity Sightings- None

Overall Score- 8.1 out of 10

Show on Deck- Martin Sexton

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