Concert Review: Tunde Olaniran and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
April 19, 2014: Royal Oak Music Theatre, Royal Oak
Detroit’s own Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. has been gaining quite a bit momentum over the last year. I had seen them once a few years ago at Arts, Beats, and Eats when they opened up for Panic! At the Disco but whoever was running the soundboard was not doing a great job so it was hard to hear how talented these guys are. My interest was peaked enough to go home and check them out and I was very glad that I did. The guys released The Speed of Things last year and I loved it so much that I just had to include in in my Top 13 of 2013 list. I was pretty excited to get to see them live again, hopefully with better sound quality than last time.
As I become more immersed in the local music scene, I hear Tunde Olaniran‘s name more and more. I was pretty excited to finally get to see what everyone was talking about. The stage was dark, and suddenly I noticed two masked ladies slowly making their way out with lanterns. Music was still playing over the speakers, so not many people in the sold out crowd even took notice at first. Finally Tunde took the stage and everyone went crazy, clearly DEJJ wasn’t the only act that people had come to see.
Tunde kicked off his set with “Cobra”, a drum driven track perfect for grabbing everyone’s attention. Tunde gives the audience the full experience: amazing vocal talents, backup dancers, and stage presence to spare. The highlight of Tunde’s performance had to be about half way through his set. He and his backup dancers had disappeared back stage, the latter reappearing in new outfits and carrying a basket full of gold balloons accompanied three more people each carrying a balloon in the shape of a number (a 4, 2, and 0). Tunde came back onto stage the jumped into “Diamonds in My Grill” with some help from Little Animal and Passalacqua as the dancers passed out the golden balloons to be knocked around by the crowd on the floor. Having the guest vocalists that were originally featured on the song definitely added to the already fantastic performance that Tunde had been giving.
Tunde closed out his set with “The Internet”, bringing James Linck on stage to help out. Like I said before, Tunde is really the whole package when it comes to performing. His vocals are amazing and he keeps the performance visually stimulating with dancers and interesting wardrobe. He even participates in some of the choreography and it’s clear by the look on his face that he’s having a good time which makes the performance that much more enjoyable.
The crowd went crazy as soon as Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. came onto stage, going immediately into “Hiding”. The audience shouted back at the band enthusiastically at the chrous “I ain’t hiding / I ain’t hiding no more” to the great pleasure of Daniel Zott and Joshua Epstein. After wrapping up the song, Epstein informed us that we were already at the top of their list for favorite performances of the year and that the sold out crowd filling the Royal Oak Music Theatre was the largest that they had played for.
Of course the hometown crowd went crazy when the boys played “We Almost Lost Detroit”. I don’t think there was a person in the building not dancing and singing along at the top of their lungs and if there’s anything that can make an already amazing night even better, it’s an enthusiastic crowd. For their encore, DEJJ brought Tunde Olaniran out on stage for “Against the Law” which is featured on the Produce Vol. 1 mixtape released earlier this year. Of course the guys played “If You Didn’t See Me (Then You Weren’t On the Dancefloor)”. Zott made a running leap into the crowd, disappearing only for a moment before being raised up and passed around as he closed out the song.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr. definitely wanted to give a great performance to their hometown and everyone there brought the energy to prove that we were happy to have them home. I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen an audience that excited to see a band perform. It was a great night and easily my favorite concert of the year (so far anyways).