Rhythm n Bloom: An RnBae Concert Experience

By Jacob Perez

Upon my arrival, fans were already scattered inside the Shirley Theater at Gramps with their baes hand-in-hand. Dim purple lights in the intimate venue added an element of tension as we waited for performers to take the stage – clearly, the people here were ready either to be in their feelings or catch some new ones.

I noticed the crowd rustle with conversation, watching with me as someone who I thought was a fellow fan left the crowd to take the stage. At only 19 years old, Carson, fka Cassidy Shooster, completely took the audience by surprise.

Her voice was steady & unafraid, crooning with a style that draws clear influence from jazzy powerhouses in R&B like Lianne La Havas. Carson performed without any support from other instrumentalists – to captivate her audience, she just needed her voice & her keyboard.

Shortly after Carson left the audience stunned, local legend Cesar Santalo emerged from the crowd with some band members. I was excited to experience a full band juxtaposed at this event with a powerful soloist. Santalo had an obvious following in the crowd – some fans to my left chanted "Purple, Purple" as soon as he introduced himself (Purple is arguably Cesar Santalo's most popular track, with over half a million streams on Spotify).

The room was ripe with energy as fans swayed to Cesar's cover of Jungle and cheered for his flawless guitarist. The crowd burst into applause after his set while the show closed out, but it was apparent that an impression was made – nearly all of the fans stayed after the show to meet the performers and bombard them with love. It was so refreshing to experience people embracing their passions for music in an environment so full of love.