With the start of a new semester, Ann Arbor has come alive as the energy of students returned to campus after a long summer away. Nowhere else is this more evident than at The Blind Pig, where Michigan’s student music roared back to life last weekend with a 6-part showcase curated by music website What The Sound. The site, started by University of Michigan senior Ben Schechter, showcases local and up-and-coming artists through interviews and curated concerts like this one. Headlined by local favorites Stoop Lee and Charlie Burg, this first What the Sound show drew a crowd of locals and students alike. A host of supporting artists including UM students mAraLee and Jacob Sigman, as well as Michigan artists T.I.E and The Geronimus Brothers, amplified the night.
While each artist at the September 9th show was impressive in their own right, the combination of varying musical styles provided by the show’s lineup created a truly unique experience, blending hip hop, pop, electronic, rock, and more into a cohesive yet diverse set of performances. Up first was mAraLee, whose set combined electronic mixes with her own vocals, moving from dancehall-inspired choruses to bass heavy beats without pause. Her set ended on a mellow note with a melancholy sound that quickly livened up thanks to Detroit rapper Munch joining her onstage, his words meshing with the electronic melody for a memorable finish.
Up next was The Geronimus Brothers, a rap duo comprised of identical twins from Ann Arbor. The duo started their set acapella before diving into a setlist of raps accompanied by strong backing beats. Back in Ann Arbor for the first time in four years, the brothers provided a high energy set that ended with a freestyle leading into a slower jam.
The final opener, Jacob Sigman, performed with fellow University of Michigan students Dan Sagher, Erez Levin, Cory Tripathy, and Andrew Solway. Moving between keyboard and guitar while singing lead vocals, Sigman performed a set of previously-unreleased music that brought to mind Beatles-style pop: catchy beats, rock ‘n’ roll rhythms, and lyrics that highlighted themes of love and youth. Along with these original songs, Sigman welcomed Charlie Burg and Stoop Lee onstage to perform a rendition of Justin Timberlake’s “Senorita,” adding a taste of R&B and hip hop to the set.
Then, it was time for the headliners. Up first: Stoop Lee, who took the stage to perform songs from his new EP, “Episode 1: Okan.” Lee got the crowd on their feet and kept the energy up with hard-hitting rap verses, jumping into the audience more than once to dance among the crowd. While his vocals alone were strong, the best songs of the set came when Lee brought out his full band, complete with trombone and trumpet players. The horns, rhymes, and funky bass lines combined to create a unique blend of jazz and hip hop styles.
After a strong lineup of openers and co-headliners, it was time for the finale: Charlie Burg took the stage with Dan Sagher, Erez Levin, Oren Levin, and Sam Collins, all University of Michigan students. Performing a selection of originals, Burg brought Stoop Lee and Jacob Sigman back onstage to collaborate on a few songs and also performed a cover of Kanye West’s “Graduation.” Burg performed other covers before finishing with an encore performance of Weezer’s “Say It Ain’t So.” While his set may have been heavy on covers, the diversity of genres covered highlight Burg’s impressive and diverse musical abilities, and served as the perfect end to a show that blended an array of sounds and styles to create a unique and truly local experience.
Want to experience Ann Arbor’s local music scene for yourself? What the Sound concerts continue at the Pig for the remaining Fridays in September. Join What the Sound on Friday, September 23 for an album release show celebrating student band The Stellars – tickets are $7(21+)/$10(18+) at the door, doors open 8:30pm.