If you missed The Outsiders and Real People Music’s performances at XOX last week, you missed primarily three things: 1) phenomenal sets by both artists, 2) a ferocious cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta” by The Outsiders’ “EAGLEBABEL” (Tyler Brooks) ’16 and Real People Music, and 3) a soundcheck that featured not only references to free beer and the new Star Wars movie but also an a cappella beatboxing courtesy of EAGLEBABEL.
EAGLEBABEL’s sound check that night served as a preview to the incredible stage presence that The Outsiders exhibited during their set. EAGLEBABEL and Meetus (Daryle Allums) ’17 traded verses throughout the set — balancing each other out, each with his own unique style. EAGLEBABEL was typically more animated, whether soundchecking or performing, whereas Meetus took a more subdued but no less captivating route, accompanied with excellent beats by Doza (Mike Mendoza) M.S. ’16. that were by turns frenzied, funky or chill as the mood of the song required.
A definite highlight of The Outsiders’ set was a song from EAGLEBABEL’s solo debut (“Odes,” available on Bandcamp) called “Tryin’.” Midway through the set, a slightly sheepish Tyler Brooks announced that he was going to sing a song about his ex and gestured towards the audience, inviting them to come closer. We listeners complied, forming a circle around him. The intimacy established by physical proximity and the emotion in Tyler Brooks’ voice grew throughout the song, reaching its peak when he cried out, “I ain’t tryin’ to get back with you, I just wanna let you know I give a fuck about you,” his voice dropping into a quiet melody, “And if I ever said that I loved you I would be lyin’ / So yeah, that makes two, but why does it feel like I got the blame for tryin’?”
The transition from The Outsiders’ set to Real People Music, a stylistically distinct band, was made seamless thanks to a genius joint cover of Kendrick Lamar’s “King Kunta.” As soon as Real People Music took the stage, James Hanley ’16 burst out, to everyone’s surprise: “Bitch, where you when I was walkin’? / Now I run a game got the whole world talkin’, King Kunta.” Within seconds EAGLEBABEL came back on stage and took the mic to continue the rap verse, backed by Real People Music’s vibrant jamming.
For those of us who’d seen Real People Music perform their mélange of rock, jazz, funk, soul, R&B, etc. before, their set at XOX was, compared to the delightfully shocking intro of King Kunta, familiar but no less exhilarating. Shoutouts are due to a spirited rendition of Amy Winehouse’s “Valerie,” led by the soulful, resonant vocals of Gracie Laboy ’16, a stand-out riffing by Blane Wilson M.S. ’16 on the keys, and Hanley’s spritely guitar, engaging persona and howling vocals.
By the end of the night, the requests for “one more song” were inevitable, and Real People Music obliged with none other than Stevie Wonder, who was, in a sense, the perfect artist with which to close out the night, an artist who spoke to the shared roots of both Real People Music and The Outsiders — funk, soul and R&B. It goes to show that, although The Outsiders and Real People Music might seem different on the surface, there’s an essential energy to both bands that showed itself at XOX that night, making it one of the best shows of the year thus far.
Contact Tyler Dunston at tdunston ‘at’ stanford.edu.