I fell in love with a Sagittarius, she knew I was a Cancer so she said we could be a…Cancertarius.
Concerts are great. No one’s disputing that. But if you’re someone like me, who goes out not only to dance but also to connect and feel like a part of something, concerts can sometimes feel a bit lonely.
However it happens, a sense of closeness and community and conversation can, at times, get lost, especially in big crowds. Great music is what draws people in, but the quiet spaces between songs are just as crucial. A song can be played and loved again and again, but it’s the energy in the room and those spontaneous moments of connection that can never be recreated - but are always remembered.
One of the reasons that local rapper LTTheMonk stands out is his ability to create space for these moments to happen organically. And during his latest show on Friday, that ability shone through to the fullest.
Photo: Friday night's show.
Liam Tyndall, a.k.a. LTTheMonk (or LT for short), moved to Hamilton from London (England, not Ontario!) in 2017, which he referenced during the show with the line “London raised, Hamilton trained”. His latest record, Kinks, Drinks, & Hip-Hop, was released in 2019. Friday’s show at local venue Mills Hardware was also the release of the music video for “Mixed Kobe”, the fifth track off the album and an infectiously smooth, rhythmic tune.
LISTEN: LTTheMonk's latest album, Kinks, Drinks & Hip-Hop
As the name suggests, the track is a reference to the late basketball legend Kobe Bryant. LT paid tribute to him during the performance, both in song and by wearing a Bryant jersey underneath one of his signature colourful button-down shirts.
Photo: The Bryant jersey.
I met up with Erica, our Music Director, not long before LT was set to go on. He had the floor after Wooly Mantis and opened his set with the video premiere. The video features footage cut from his live performances at the 2019 Supercrawl and at The Mule Spinner, including several clips of the audience cheering, jumping, dancing, and just generally having a good time. A collection of raw, organic moments.
I remember being struck by how genuinely heartwarming that was. As a vital part of the story they present to the world, a music video can tell you a lot about what an artist is all about. LT’s specific choice to center the video around his audience and his performances at local venues speaks to how important the local scene and his fans are to his identity as a musician. It was a powerful way of showing his dedication.
WATCH: The "Mixed Kobe" Music Video
LT’s specific choice to center the video around his audience...speaks to how important the local scene and his fans are to his identity as a musician.
And that dedication was paid back a hundredfold. Right by the stage where Erica and I were standing, it was so palpable it was almost physical. Cheers of his name would start up in what felt like almost every break between songs and continued long after his set ended. At one point while he was introducing his next song, someone reached up to take his hand and he just…held on and continued speaking. A concertgoer got up on stage to dance near the show’s end, and he danced right along with them.
Photos: LT shares the stage - twice!
His openness and excitement at engaging with his audience – what I mean by “creating space” – was key. It created a friendly atmosphere that grew and spread. I never felt alone at all, even when Erica had to disappear to take photos from a different angle and I actually was.
The show’s high energy balanced that feeling out nicely. LT has a snappy, kinetic dance style to match his flow, and he moves sharply to the beat with fierce joy and bold footwork.
I never felt alone at all, even when Erica had to disappear to take photos from a different angle and I actually was.
Photo: Some cool footwork.
He’s also a master of hair flips, which had me briefly missing my long hair (I love my bob haircut, but that is, sadly, one of its disadvantages). The bassist, drummer, and keyboardist matched that energy, too; Erica pointed out the visible passion in their playing to me more than once. I’m fairly sure I said “nice” at almost every beautiful keyboard riff, which (probably?) counts as returning the favour.
Photo: LT wasn't the only one bringing the energy.
It was late when I left, but I felt even more energized than I did walking in. Not even having to sprint three blocks to catch my bus could break my good mood, which says everything you need to know about this review.
Photo: Towards the end of the performance.
Crowds, especially small ones in the Hamilton scene, are groups of people with a love of music in common – a community, if only for an hour or so. And if that’s the case, a performer is, in a way, a leader within the community. A show is an opportunity to bring people together, and this past Friday, LTTheMonk and his band definitely rose to the occasion.
[all photos c/o Erica Commisso]