Vermont natives turned Nashville residents, 99 Neighbors, played an incredibly special show last night during a home base stop of their Wherever You’re Going I Hope It’s Great tour, dedicated to their newest album release from late September. Performing at the Nashville staple, EXIT/IN, the alt-rap collective brought high energy levels, despite having already been on the road for several weeks, into an intimate experience for attendees to enjoy. As vocalist HANKNATIVE mentioned a few times during the show, this stop was particularly meaningful because the audience was made up of not only fans but also friends and sponsors that the collective has met in their approximate past year of being residents.
Kicking off the night was Nashville’s very own Brian Brown, a rapper who knows how to work a crowd to somehow get us jumping while also thinking about some of life’s more difficult tribulations. Releasing his debut project, Journey, in 2020, Brian showed the world that he’s not a one-size-fits-all artist. The project showcased his range in both lyricism and production, cementing his place in the hip-hop world as a force to be reckoned with, and EXIT/IN-goers were able to witness everything he set forth last year. He made us laugh with some remarks while keeping us grounded in reality with his messages.
seeyousoon, a unique nine-piece collective hailing from Florida, has been touring with 99 Neighbors and after last night, it’s easy to see how these two collectives mesh so well together. Expanding on the energy level set by Brian, seeyousoon came out the doors (well, theoretical doors) kicking. The hyped-up vibes exploded from the second they got on stage and things only slowed down when they deemed it time to. With each member jumping or dancing and shouting out lyrics, the energy was absolutely intoxicating, particularly when vocalists would jump into the crowd to sing directly with audience members. It was so easy to let yourself sink into the up-and-down bops that fell within the beat of the collective’s performance. Thankfully attendees had a minor break to take a breather and drink some water before the *drumroll* main event.
Although I had caught a small portion of 99 Neighbors’ set at The Governors Ball a few months ago, I didn’t have the time to fully immerse myself in the experience, so it was great to be able to catch a full set this time around. Capitalizing on the energetic tone that was set by Brian and seeyousoon, 99 Neighbors kept the crowd entertained with heavily-anticipated tracks that warranted belted sing-alongs. Set against red, blue, green, and purple lights, the collective’s members interacted with each other and the crowd to showcase their album, all while keeping things fun by throwing in some dance breaks. “Cards,” “Hometown Famous,” and “Eastside” were crowd favorites, though every single track, including a couple of throwbacks, were well-received. Somewhere between all of the respectable rowdiness on stage and in the crowd (yes, moshing was present, but safely), we were treated to some show-stopping vocal work by Aidan Ostby.
At the end of the night, when every single performing artist returned to stage, the appreciation for the audience, for Nashville, and for the tour as a whole was very apparent. The night ended the way it started – energetic, fun, and spectacularly intimate, and absolutely brimming with love for the experiences we get to share.