Miguel, SiR, Nonchalant Savant
April 3, 2K18
The show starts with a voice in the dark on a loop. It cycles over and over, sounding almost majestic as it rolls over the crowd. The voice on the loop belongs to Miguel, and it does a good job of building up the energy of the crowd for his eventual arrival and showing just how great his best tool is. Yes, the man knows how to write songs, he can move across the stage with style and grace, he’s comfortable with guitars both real and air, but it’s that voice, the one that can be completely smooth yet can kill when he adds just a bit of grit to it — “Waves” is a prime example of this — that packed Warehouse Live last night.
It’s a voice so good that you get the feeling that Miguel doesn’t really have to do much on stage if he doesn’t want to; with that voice and general vibe of his music he could easily bring down the house just standing on stage with a mike in his hand. It would be easy to just lean in on songs about weed smoke and having sex, of which he’s got great songs about each (“Do You…” and “Coffee” for example) and both together (“Simple Things”). While he was certainly there to party, the show was much better when he opened up a bit about himself and encouraged his fans to think.
I like his brand of self-examination to be a damn bit more interesting than countless speeches I’ve sat through at other shows about how everyone is special and anyone can achieve their dreams, platitudes that sound really good but are kind of empty upon closer examination, especially when the artists speaking them are ignoring things like privilege. Miguel wants his fans to think a little bit bigger, a little more philosophical, to ask ourselves questions and to be mindful of how our own self-curation impacts our worldview.
Pretty heavy stuff after a song about morning sex.
But he also hit on topics like how money shapes politics and gave a pretty good talk on consent even if he didn’t use that word specifically. That the show could move from songs that are pretty easy going to talks that reflect the reality we live in was pretty remarkable and was delivered in a way that never felt pandering.
Near the end of the show, he mentioned that this tour was the last time we’d be seeing him in venues this size. I don’t know if he’s calling his shot or if he’s got something big lined up later this year, but this show was sold out way in advance, and with 148 million plays of “Sky Walker” on Spotify there’s clearly a major audience out there for what he does. I just hope that as his voice gets a bigger platform he doesn’t shrink away from the big ideas.
Personal Bias: It’s been one year and two days since I got married. Our last dance at the wedding was to the “Waves” remix with Kacey Musgraves, which I’m still kind of mad was never released as a single because it was maybe the best song to come out in 2016.
The Crowd: A mix of high fashion, festival fashion, and a bunch of dudes I wouldn’t want to meet in a dark alley. Had a very pleasant interaction with a guy who, having realized I was not exactly thrilled with him lighting up next to me, explained him and his buddy just wanted to take a few hits and then would put their product out. I was really happy with where I was standing — smoke weed if you want, just don’t do it when there isn’t plenty of ventilation — so I’m glad things worked out and I didn’t have to move.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Nonchalant Savant? Sounds like a type of wine,” said the person waiting in line at the box office. He then explained to his friends, fresh from living in a cave I assume, that the reason people were lined up so early before Miguel was set to take the stage was that they wanted to see the opening acts.
Random Notebook Dump: There was an ice cream truck outside the venue, trying to sell various refreshments to those waiting in line to get into the show. It played one of those ice cream truck melodies that you’ve heard dozens of times on a 15-second loop. That’s four times a minute. That’s 240 times per hour. 1,920 times in an eight-hour shift. 9,600 times in a 40-hour work week. If you do that job for a month, how many years do you think it takes to get that melody out of your head?