WebsterX w/ The Milwaukee Medley @ Turner Hall Ballroom
May 26, 2017
Over the last few years, WebsterX has gone from unknown upstart to one of the Milwaukee music scene’s brightest lights, yet while his considerable skills behind the microphone should be self evident, there’s also no denying that his rise has been helped along by a symbiotic relationship with a cadre of equally talented collaborators, namely the eclectic New Age Narcissism crew. Now, after an impressive string of buzz-building singles and EPs, WebsterX has finally put out his first full-length record, Daymares, which handily proved the hype had been well deserved. True to form, he took this album-release show as an opportunity to get as many of his peers involved as possible, which is undeniably admirable, but it also proved how having too many cooks in the kitchen can dilute even the strongest flavors.
For the first two-and-a-half hours or so, the show mostly consisted of something the promotional poster called “the Milwaukee Medley,” basically extremely short sets by a wide variety of artists from across the city’s flourishing rap scene, among them Mic Kellogg and Taj Raiden. In theory, that sounds amazing, but in practice it felt a little like an overstuffed talent show. It was clearly meant to be an inclusive and supportive move, but trying to pack a ton of people onto a bill is always incredibly difficult to execute well. The rapid-fire, awkwardly paced sets, too brief to allow the musicians to gain much traction with the audience, didn’t do any of the acts any favors, nor did the one-size-fits-all sound mix, which prioritized rib-rattling bass at the expense of everything else.
Although some performers were perhaps burdened by the cumbersome format, nobody was bad per se, and Zed Kenzo and Klassik were clear standouts. Had they simply opened, instead of being another in a string of people to filter on and off stage, their sets would have had far more impact, and the same goes for the headliner, whose impassioned, trippy show would have been twice as impressive had it not come at the end of a long slog. It also lessened the thrill of what otherwise would have been memorable guest spots, such as a dozen choreographed dancers popping out of nowhere, or when—at long last—erstwhile friends Lex Allen, Lorde Fredd33 and Siren helped wrap up the evening. Eventually, even the special stuff, just got lost in the shuffle.