Henry Steinway – better known at RL Grime – is a guys’ guy. In a scene where many DJs are the pretty faces of endorsements and the work of their ghost producers, the 22-year-old’s fresh faced authenticity is inspiring. And it was so, at New York City’s Le Poisson Rouge, Thursday (May 10) night.
Watching an electronic set can go sour a few ways. There is the times when you gaze around to see if everyone else is as bored as you or if they aren’t it’s because they’re on something.” There are times when one can’t stop thinking, “get back behind the laptop, you’re a DJ not a hype man.” There are the times you know may get trampled by a girl rushing onstage to do a handstand. This was not any of those nights.
RL Grime does not spend excessive time on the microphone. Nor does he look like he just left a professionally styled photo shoot. The crowd is almost solely composed of 5-panel-hat wearing head bobbers who closely resemble the producer whom they’ve gathered together to watch.You won’t find any neon bootyshorts or “RUN THE TRAP” tank tops. There are no wailing girls on anyone’s shoulders and certainly no one is using 2013’s favorite acronym, EDM. The young RL Grime evokes nostalgia for a New York City we once knew in the ‘90s.
A 90-minute diverse set packed in every rap hit you’ve ever sang full blast in your car with every top 40 hip-hop banger that the 20-somethings grinded to at their proms. Opening with Ace Hood’s “Bugatti,” the tracklist was sprinkled with RL Grime favorites from original track “Trap on Acid,” to last Summer’s underdog hit remix of “Mercy.” Grime alternated between mouthing words, dancing along, and adjusting his controller’s knobs as if they had the pounds of tension before releasing into familiar drops.
Joined onstage by recent viral-star producer Baauer, the BFFs shared a wide-grinned hug before RL Grime played new Baauer tunes. Also dancing along onstage were peers Brenmar and Ryan Hemsworth adding credibility to the performance and showing the camaraderie in current scene of genre blending young producers.
Having spent some of his college years living in Manhattan, RL Grime’s appreciation for his New York crowd was felt by hundreds of gleaming sweaty faces. As the crowd trickled into the streets of Greenwich Village, fans began requesting photos. He postponed his 4 a.m. pizza session to take Instagram selfies with each of them. It’s hard not to love RL Grime.