LIVEDC: Theophilus London @ 930 Club
[email protected] | Oct 5, 2011 | 2:45PM |

all words: Robb Scott
all photos: Rachel Eisley

In the span of seven months, Brooklyn-born rapper Theophilus London went from playing the stage at Uhall to the much larger space at the 9:30 club. As a kick-off the North American leg of his Timez Are Weird tour, the man with the Calypso blues brought his unique style of hip-hop to DC (again). While the tour may be alongside Friendly Fires, this night saw natives Ra Ra Rasputin as opener.

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Donning a sleek leather jacket, trademark LVRS cap, and all black, save for his deep blue Dunks, there was a modesty in aesthetics. Theophilus London wasted no time jumping right into his grooves, opening with the Sara Quin collaboration “Why Even Try.”

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His set flowed quite nicely, the energy level remaining just as high as the bass coming from the speakers. The lighting of 9:30 also played to his benefit, adding that much more sensory stimulation next to his DJ’s bank of sound effects.

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Where Theophilus London shined and initiated a dance orgy of sorts over at UHall, this time around, his set felt more like a listening party for the new album. The audience was evidently different from those who came out to see him back in February; the energy was also notably different.

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There was a lot of audience interaction, always a plus, but there just lacked any genuine energy transfer from crowd to stage. There were certainly people enjoying themselves, dancing, showing emotion, but there were far more people simply nodding along. I’m sure TL was expecting another sweat filled dance mess like last time; at least I was.

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Mr London showed off a bit of his acting talents (not really, but really) with a silly dialogue with his hype-man; he announced to title for his upcoming mix-tape (Don’t Fear the Digital World). As an added treat, he previewed two new tracks, both solid—”Big Spender,” a bass-heavy 50s jazz sounding track, and “All Around the World,” with a bouncy California beach patrol feel. With a cover of Tweet’s (remember her, from nearly a decade ago) song “Oops (Oh My),” he pulled one lucky, albeit not as enthusiastic as one would expect, fan on stage to dance.

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When that moment of the “spontaneous” encore came around, despite the clue of pulsing stage lights, the venue remained fairly subdued—not a good look people, we could have done better than a few lonely claps here and there. Theophilus London returned to perform two tracks, one old and one new, as well as an impromptu DJ set.

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It pains me to make aware the fact that the audience as a whole got more excited by the tracks he played, than the ones he performed. While he is a very talented performer, and has the charisma and stage presence to woo a crowd, this night just didn’t knock anything out of the ball park.

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Theophilus London’s debut album, Timez Are Weird These Days is available now on iTunes and Spotify—but as a fan, I’m suggesting you go the step further and download his various mix-tapes; his sound is quite diverse. We also have an interview with TL as well, in case you missed it.

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Setlist

  • Why Even Try
  • Wine and Chocolates
  • Strange Love
  • Love is Real
  • I Stand Alone
  • Sorry to Interrupt
  • Oops (Tweet Cover)
  • Flying Overseas
  • Girls Girls $
  • Big Spender*
  • I Want You
  • All Around the World*
  • Always Love U
  • TNT

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Encore

  • Humdrum Town
  • One Last Time
  • *New Material

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