(cover by @shotbykenny)
If you’ve been paying attention to Detroit music lately, there’s no doubt you’ve heard the name Sam Austins. What you may not know is that his recent shine is the result of years of personal polishing, and the strength of his team at Assemble and beyond is paramount to his continued success.
I read a Facebook post about the event that said a lot of what I was thinking: In short, that the impressive turnout and supportive energy was the result of a lean, hard-working team behind the scenes, rather than a major cosign or obnoxious social media spam. The show said as much about Assemble as it did about Sam, and while the night most certainly belonged to the main attraction, everyone including Austins himself would like to see the credit where it is due.
When I walked in, the crowd was notably strong for such an early start time. You’d know who was performing by the age-range in the room; Curtis Roach‘s promising talent at the ripe age of 18 brought out many of his teenage peers, but his appeal doesn’t stop there. His energetic and youthful style gave me hints of Aminé, with less singing and perhaps better diction. With beats that fit well within the current surge of light-hearted production in hip hop, meshed with lyrically-driven vocals that would appease most old-heads, there are more than a few reasons to keep an eye on this exciting new presence in Detroit music.
There’s no other way to say it: I was enamored by BVLV‘s performance. Of course I’d heard a lot about her, and had regrettably missed her set at Hamtramck Music Fest, but I was simply not prepared. The initial tone was set with a casual entrance that preceded an a cappella introduction, but as soon as she dropped “Freaks,” there was no turning back. Her stunning energy was equally sensual and aggressive, often both at once, which delivered a powerful example of a certain versatility that perhaps lends itself best to female lyricists. Why just be Nicki Minaj or Rapsody, when you can be both? (And of course, in proper recognition of her namesake, throw in Beyoncé for good measure).
There are many ways to know Sam Austins. Those that have seen him rise from what he once was know how far he’s come, before the fashion shows and the billboards. His presence in Detroit is undeniable thanks to his vision, which manifests itself in ways that are only possible through the commitment of his supporters and the talent of his collaborators.
The shine of his shirt was only eclipsed by his presence. I’m convinced there isn’t a stage in the city that could hold it all. From the moment he appeared, the crowd was his for the taking.
What I want you to know is that the man belongs on stage. What he gave us that night was such a genuine appreciation for the moment, and he took every opportunity to make the most of it.
The design laid the perfect canvas for a triumphant performance. Flanked on each side by towering visuals, body draped in beams of light, Sam cruised through a spectacular sampling of his musical prowess; from the turmoil of Angst to the celebration of “FIJI,” and even into heavier trap-bangers that left the dance floor in shambles, it was all there.
“I’m thankful as fuck,” he said, “This shit is everything to me. This is what makes Detroit the best place on Earth.”
As DJ Killa $quid gave way to Take a Daytrip for their closing set (which included back to back Sheck Wes drops that made me re-enter the room more than once), I was able to chop it up with some people that had experienced the show.
The prevailing theme: pride.
As I mentioned before, those that have known Sam for a while know where he is in the context of where he has been. His impressive resilience and relentless pursuit of the furthest reaches of his potential have brought what we have here before us, a star in the making from the City of Detroit. Supporters new and old aren’t going anywhere, this is the beginning of something special.
For the night, and perhaps for longer, this was Sam’s Town.