Stage lights in hues of violet and magenta cast shadows against the Yamaha drum set. Old army jackets, American flag bandanas, braided dreadlocks, varsity jackets and worn-down skater shoes adorned a waiting, not-so-in crowd, which was buzzing with anticipation. Fans in the darkened vestibule of the 9:30 Club on Monday awaited the arrival of Theophilus London, who was fashionably late of course.
The V Street concert space was the fifth-to-last stop on the Brooklyn-bred rapper’s international tour titled Tour de Roses. His opening act, known under the moniker Phony Ppl, started the event off on a high note, performing a doo-wop ballad, “Does He Really,” a 90s-esque piece, “Is It Good?” and a beat heavy crowd favorite, “Just Break It Off.”
As Phony Ppl exited stage left and the crowd’s applauding hands were still in motion, the headliner ran onto the stage and straight to his rose-decorated microphone.
Clad in ripped black jeans, a spiked leather jacket, red bandana tied messily around his ankle and a pair of Michael Jordan’s famed sneakers, he shouted out his hometown with a braggadocios reminder of the Giants’ Super Bowl victory. All 6 feet and some odd inches of Theophilus London traveled swiftly across the stage, interacting with as many people as possible.
He performed hits from his first EP, Timez Are Weird These Days, like “Last Name London” and “Why Even Try.” He soothed the crowd with softer songs like “Flying Overseas” from his second EP, Lovers Holiday.
London gave his audience a treat by debuting “new shit,” as he continually referred to tracks from his upcoming project, Lovers Holiday II: Rose Island. He serenaded a giggling girl in his rendition of “Lisa,” lit a joint as he introduced “Let Me See You’re Pretty” and crowd-surfed to his crunkest collaboration with A$AP Rocky, “Big Spender.”
Phony Ppl joined London and bum-rushed the stage in excitement, sending the crowd into a beer-spilling, arm-pumping frenzy.
To conclude his set, he plucked the roses from his customized mic stand and delivered a handful to adoring female fans.