At some point during Sango and Monte Booker’s performance at the Metro on Feb. 11, I lost track of what day it was. With the riled-up crowd and the sweaty and energetic atmosphere, I could’ve sworn the concert lasted for a few days. In reality, I was at the Metro for two and a half hours on a Saturday night, but there’s a lot to be said about the way these artists played their respective music.
Stefan Ponce, a Grammy-nominated producer and native of Chicago, opened the night with a set full of throwback hip-hop classics and current club hits. Although the average person may not know his name, it’s safe to say most have definitely heard his work.
The 24-year-old Mexican-American producer was responsible for furthering Chicago’s rap resurgence with his production on Chance the Rapper’s “Good Ass Intro,” from his sophomore mixtape, “Acid Rap.” Ponce went on to work with a number of big names in the hip-hop industry, including Vic Mensa and Childish Gambino. After working as Mensa’s tour DJ, he produced Gambino’s biggest hit to date, “3005.”
It was easy to tell being in the Metro that Ponce knew his way around a set of turntables. His mixing of various tracks and remixes was nearly impeccable, matching every song’s rhythm and tempo seamlessly until it seemed as though his music was just one seamless flow of sound. Ponce was not only comfortable on stage, but he was also energetic and happy to be in his hometown, where his career took off. After a long two hours of DJing by Ponce, he quickly steps off to stage right.
Just 15 minutes later, Monte Booker appeared on stage in an odd way, laptop in hand, no exciting stage props, no crew, just himself and his music. From the very beginning, the young DJ/producer played a wild set of clammering, futuristic beats, along with chopped and screwed remixes of popular songs by the likes of Migos, Beyonce and even Justin Timberlake. His unique style of broken-up sounds, shaking through the room with layers of sub-bass, continuously riled the sold-out crowd into a state of excitement. Booker took cues from the audience very well; as their ability to restrain from dancing like crazy people lessened, he reciprocated the energy and played a song to get the crowd hyped up. The best part of his performance came at the end, where his collaborator and upcoming St. Louis rapper Smino joined him on stage to perform their song, “Color.” The energy in the room was intense, and Smino looked like he had star potential bursting from his microphone.
Sango picked up right where Booker left off, only with the subtle addition of his Brazilian funk into the bag. The cultural significance in Sango’s music shined as mosh pits quickly turned into swaying groups of concertgoers. Whichever the direction the music went in, the audience would respond and follow; transient at each musical junction, receptive and welcoming every change in direction. As many different avenues as Sango’s music typically takes, the tracks he played never misguided. The song selection and the audience’s willingness to respond made for a captivating concert that stands as a strong statement to the Soulection DJ/producer’s abilities as a creative mastermind.
Taking the eclectic styles of Booker and Sango into mind, the audience during the performance danced like crazy, slow-danced, dabbed and crowd-surfed, yet what made the night so special was how neither artist had to sacrifice any of their any of their artistic integrity.
Here are Sango and Monte Booker’s SoundCloud pages: