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Soulection. I have a fondness for their producer Esta and a soft spot for Kronika’s DJing among other things. Between the two of them, I’ve been in a state of hip-hop-induced bliss for some time now. It’s actually distracted me from my normal diet of deep house and whatever this week’s New Hot Genre is.

“Chilly,” I thought, walking down an uncongested Sunset Boulevard last Friday. There was no line around the corner, no one milling about outside. This is one reason I love The Echo/Echoplex combo. It’s almost never a struggle to see a show there.

I walked in at the end of the first set of the night, which was delivered by Andres. This performance felt very egalitarian. The stage didn’t look like some sacred altar, and people were running around, walking, and occasionally dancing. When you’re just DJing, the rest of the stage is open. Why not be interactive? Either way, the antics on stage didn’t seem forced at all.

Next was Andre Power. These guys really know how to carry a vibe. Then Joe Kay did a mini-Soulection Radio set after not having a show in weeks. Lots of hip hop and rap. Good energy, though. Iman Omari spun new underground hip hop that I’ve never heard before but would like to listen to on headphones. He also sang, which was cool. Occasionally the mood dipped into slower tempos where people would be more turned on than turnt up. Me, with zero-crotch-to-ass friction on the horizon, waited for Waldo.

Andre Power @ The Echo
Andre Power at The Echo

I was turned onto Waldo through his producer Sango. His beats are great. They’ve got this atmospheric, moody quality not terribly unlike “40.” They’re not actually similar, but they definitely set the same tone. Listening to “Purple Heart” is the best way to find out what I mean by that. He also has that whole “no new friends” attitude like Drake, but he didn’t make a whole song about it. He’s opened for Schoolboy Q, Juicy J, Pusa T…the list goes on.

Waldo @ The Echo
Waldo at The Echo

Either way, Waldo was great. He delivery was on point and accurate. The sound was good. The crowd’s attention wasn’t drawn away from the stage by their phones. It was just a good energy.

What impressed me more than anything, more than the great selections from Joe Kay and Andre Power and Andres, more than diverse assortment of beautiful people, more than all of that was the vibe. To me — and I suspect to a lot of other concert goers — the vibe is the most important part of seeing a live show. The guys at Soulection, they know how to build a vibe. A small venue like The Echo can easily be annoying if it’s overcrowded (it wasn’t), if the sound is off (it was perfect), or if the crowd was too rowdy (they weren’t). It wasn’t really like going to a “show.” It was like going to a house party with better music. They even sang this girl happy birthday. How chill is that?

Souelction Birthday Girl
Happy Birthday!

All told it was a fun show with great energy, an impressive feat considering that Freddie Gibbs and Madlib were performing at The Echoplex below. At one point during the night, I felt the floor literally vibrate from the room below. You couldn’t really hear it, but it was a friendly reminder that there was something else awesome happening very close by. Ultimately I think it’s a great thing that both of these shows are flourishing. To me, that says that people are eager for something slightly different than the current formulas for popular music.

They’re like the Sta…err, ALT 98.7 to mainstream rap’s KROQ, or KDay to the Power 106s of the world. The Soulection motto is “The Sound of Tomorrow.” I can’t help but feel that they’re right.

The Sound of Tomorrow