The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

The Student Newspaper of DePaul University

The DePaulia

Review: Ratking and Blood Orange at The Empty Bottle

Chicago got a taste of New York on Thursday from both Harlem alternative hip-hop trio Ratking and New York City-based musician Dev Hynes, who performed as Blood Orange at Empty Bottle. As part of the numerous Lollapalooza aftershows sprawled across the city this week, both acts brought a rare experience for the sold-out crowd.

As time inched closer to Ratking’s opening performance, fans slowly trickled away from the bar across the room and gathered under a small disco ball hanging directly in front of the stage. A light roar of cheers greeted Hak, one of Ratking’s rappers, as he casually strolled towards the right side of the stage. Just shortly after, Sporting Life, Ratking’s producer, and Wiki, the group’s second rapper, joined Hak on stage.

Wasting no time, Wiki immediately warmed himself up by jumping rapidly while swinging his arms, unleashing a raw energy that was quick to awaken the sleepy crowd. During “100,” Wiki ripped on the microphone shouting lyrics, occasionally gripping it with both hands to hold on while he repeatedly rocked from side to side. Hak comfortably remained stage right, raising his arms to grasp the overhead speakers and lean over the crowd while passionately delivering rhymes. Sporting Life also made center stage his home, using just one drumstick to pound on his electronic drums while using his other hand to keep the table steady while Wiki leaped across in front of him.

“Canal” was ultimately the crowd favorite, and towards the end of there set Ratking had managed to transform the audience from gentle swaying zombies into enthusiastic head bobbers.

About half an hour later, the right side of the audience cleared out to create an aisle for Hynes and his band to make their way to the stage. Screams from the audience never ceased as Hynes calmly prepared his guitar.

He opened with “Champagne Coast,” a tropical jam filled with sensual whispers and sweet guitar riffs from his debut release “Coastal Grooves.” Hynes executed very subtle hand gestures, channeling a Michael Jackson-esque aura complete with flashy leg pops and arm poses resembling those found in vogue dance. He moves through songs quickly, only pausing momentarily to introduce band members and acknowledge the sweat-inducing temperature in the room. Sporting his signature black leather hat, Hynes’ aesthetic is simple and genuine. A black Hood By Air shirt rests under his blue overalls, which blend effortlessly with his black socks and sandals.

“This is my first performance in overalls”, Hynes shyly whispers before continuing with songs from “Cupid Deluxe”, his critically acclaimed album that was released in November 2013. “Cupid Deluxe” embarks listeners on a sincere journey into Hynes’ life during the two years he spent writing the album. It boasts elements of R&B, funk, and jazz into songs about nightlife, failed relationships, and neurotic obsession over uncontrollable events. Hynes’ admirers in the crowd considered themselves lucky, as he is only doing four shows this summer in support of “Cupid Deluxe”.

“I feel like I’m seeing something special,” one fan excitedly exclaimed.

Samantha Urbani, Hynes’ girlfriend, accompanied him to create delightful harmonies during “No Right Thing” and “It Is What It Is.” Hynes and Urbani playfully danced around one another while exchanging microphones, with Hynes occasionally resting on a speaker on the side of the stage to give Urbani full control of the crowd.

During “You’re Not Good Enough,” Hynes leaped off the stage and landed in the middle of the crowd, creating a brief nightclub atmosphere as audience members directed their attention from the stage towards one another. Hynes was now a part of the crowd, with his eloquent and carefully crafted motions attracting the eyes of everyone in the room. He raises his arms and twists his torso, loosening the right strap on his overalls. Executing a pose on both tiptoes while leaning back, he exudes elements of cool and confidence. Hynes twirls again, strategically navigating his way through the crowd, eventually sliding over to the small staircase adjacent to the stage.

Once back on stage, small vapor clouds from e-cigarette puffs formed in parts of the crowd as Hynes closed with “Time Will Tell,” a bouncy track about perseverance through difficult times. It seemed fitting for Hynes to end with that song, as the audience had definitely persevered through his hourlong set dancing on crushed beer cans with foreheads glistened in sweat. A final deafening applause filled the room as Hynes and his band exited the stage, leaving faces in the crowd with blissful grins that left a sense of satisfaction.

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