Posted Apr 14th, 2015 (11:27 pm) by James Hughes
GRiZ @ Higher Ground 4/12/15 Burlington, VT
Image by James Hughes

Making another trip to New England, GRiZ brought his talents to Burlington, Vermont’s Higher Ground as a part of his Say It Loud tour on April 12. With the motivation of a new album driving the Detroit native, singles like “The Anthem,” “Funk Party,” and “Stop Trippin” fueled a high energy show for the Vermont crowd. GRiZ brought the funk and made sure the crowd was moving throughout the show, but with a predictable set list, the emerging entertainer’s precision came back to bite him.
Opening for GRiZ was Artifakts, who I did not see strictly because my cab was running excessively late. But, making it for Lawrence, KS natives The Floosies was worthwhile. Their dramatic breaks and drum fills made them a crowd favorite, as well as a great warm-up for GRiZ’s headlining performance.

In the past year since GRiZ last performed in Vermont, his performance as a whole has grown immensely. The live performance has improved in three distinct ways; the lighting, GRiZ’s presence on stage, and to be blunt – the music.
First, with a bigger budget comes a better light show. As an artist rising in popularity, GRiZ is sure to be continuously improving the visual experience that goes along with his live performance. It was a breath of fresh air to see more than the standard red, blue, and yellow backdrop that has plagued many artists in the past.

Secondly, GRiZ interacted more with the crowd than in years past. He acknowledged the energy of the rambunctious crowd by bringing an equal dose of excitement to the stage. Although not all of the acknowledgements were verbal. His energy served as a thank you to all the fans that came out to party on a Sunday night.
The piece de resistance of the entire show, naturally, was the music. Say It Loud overall is the Mo-town artist’s best work to date. The beat production was highly consistent and GRiZ’s saxophone playing has become highly improved with smoother transitions and soloing. There were still some aspects left to be desired though.

For those of us who had heard the album before, the live performance was not an unexpected surprise. Just to note, not all surprises are good. The surprise, which was the one noticeable disappointment of the show, was how tight and precise GRiZ was. His live show sounded, almost to the note, exactly like the album’s rendition. I know it doesn’t sound like such a bad thing, but with the live show, I expected a more exploratory GRiZ. If you put the album on blast in your home, or apartment, you will get very close to the same result. I was hoping to see, and hear, more spontaneity within the set. The set seemed to be overly scheduled to the point where there was no wiggle room for anything unexpected. Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic and GRiZ share many similarities between their performances on the live stage. But, Lalli consciously sets aside space for aggressive, yet smooth soloing. That creative break brings fresh life to the tracks performed. GRiZ may just need more time to incorporate that into his act; after which the benefits will become apparent. GRiZ even went off stage fifteen minutes before the set was actually supposed to end, strictly to give the appearance of an encore.

All that being said, GRiZ’s live show is for any man, woman, or child that wants to have fun. The funk, hip-hop, electronic, jazz, and trap influences GRiZ presents will strike a chord with almost any music fan. Even though it sounded just like the album; isn’t that what fans want? A performer who is able to recreate the exact sound that is featured on their album is something to be commended for. I am just a nerdy saxophone player myself, therefore, my inner band geek was screaming for more jazz every time GRiZ put down the woodwinds to strictly DJ a few tracks. But, either way, round two of GRiZ’s Vermont campaign was enjoyable nonetheless.

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