The intimate yet lively cold-out set at Bowery Ballroom on Tuesday (June 5), had a little something for everyone. Her openers Baby Rose and Mikhala Jené provided lush performances with their style of R&B soul. Jené’s “All I Want” and Rose’s very rousing and classic vocals were beautiful discoveries. As natural babes and fellas filled up the venue, alluring blue-hued lights set the tone for the rest of the night.
The connection between the VIBE NEXT alum and the crowd was more than anyone could have hoped for. Stepping out in an all-black ensemble and signature high curly bun (with a very Diana Ross-like fur coat), Ari opened up with “Chicago Boy,” which also happens to be the opener for her debut album, Shea Butter Baby. The setlist was a mix of the tracks from the project as well as her breakout EP, PHO. Fans were able to “bust it real fast” on Ari’s command to tracks like “Broke,” “Night Drive” and the sensual single, “Up Late.” With trumpeter Theo Croker performing on “Chicago Boy,” “Static” and “Whipped Cream,” love and nayhoos were definitely in the kush-filled air.
Loosies like “40 Shades Of Choke” got their moment with Ari requesting everyone to say, “I will be consensually choked tonight and I will survive” before singing the track.
Ari’s show was an embodiment of who she is and what her music represents–unapologetic with strong doses of grown and sexy appeal. Her stage was tailor-made for the D.C. native as well. First with the cheekily set up mannequins donning striking wigs behind her, and second with her own commentary throughout the duration of the show. At various points during the show, Ari and her packed audience maintained upbeat conversations.
A fan in the front row shared how the heartbreaking “La La La La” would be her future wedding song with the singer encouraging her by sending good vibes to her future hubby, dog and life.
There wasn’t one low point during Ari’s show, and it only got degrees hotter when she threw off her fur jacket, a statement piece in her video for “Up Late,” and moved effortlessly to the beat of “Broke,” her song featuring J.I.D. The Christo-created track got the crowd vibing, and the Bowery was quickly filled up with voices singing along to Ari’s catchy lines, “I’ve been low before/Yeah you know I’ve been low before.”
Hands were thrown into the air by girls sporting long, box braids and styled afros as they danced along to the song. Although J.I.D. didn’t come out to perform their record together, the crowd was blessed with a surprise appearance from the brain behind Dreamville himself, J. Cole. With his now, trademark dreadlocks on display, Cole joined his signee onstage for a rendition of their hit “Shea Butter Baby.”
The venue was already booming thanks to Ari, but with the two together onstage it may as well have exploded.
The image of Ari and Cole performing is one that can represent 2019 wholly; it’s the year of Dreamville. While Cole may have been the icing on the cake for Ari’s NY show, she was the entire slice and then some.
Tasting a piece of Ari’s live shows is what everyone needs to feel as grown and as sexy and she does.
Check out more dates for The Shea Butter Baby Tour here.
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