“Telefone” Delight: Noname at the Doug Fir Lounge

After the acclaim and success of her debut album Telefone, Noname’s tour sold out rapidly. Fatimah Warner’s career as Noname began in Chicago doing slam-poetry and hip-hop with YOUMedia Program for Youth Creatives at Chicago Harold Washington Library. It was here that Fatimah transitioned from a poet to rapper,

“I was not thinking about rapping at all, and then I just got really inspired by everyone who was around me. We would freestyle, we would cipher after every open mic”.


Noname and her opener, Ravyn Lenae, brought that Chicago hip-hop experience to Portland’s Doug Fir Lounge.

 

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Noname/ Fatimah Warner watercolor by Britt Mohr

 

Along with the Chicago vibe, the show exhibited an expression of black female empowerment and femininity. Ravyn’s band introduced her to the stage, modern and electric. Her performance brought a youthful dynamic, dancing and calling to the audience to join at the start of each song. Ravyn continually alluded to spring and how it inspired her music with an over-arching theme of rejuvenation and renewal.

Noname’s band introduction favored a more bluesy influence. Her band began with a blues instrumental before Fatimah entered, boosted the energy of the stage and crowd with the start of the whimsical “All I Need”.

The airiness and natural chemistry of the band and Fatimah was like being invited to an intimate jam session. The gentle yet intense liveliness apparent in her album transferred onto the stage full force. Noname was taking a deeply personal album and extending it to her audience for a shared experience. Playful spirit and cadence enhanced by the magnetism of the crowd helped to bring her themes and meanings to life.

Staying true to Telefone, there was childlike faith and joy balanced with melancholy. Noname moved across the stage, poetically drifting between gentle dreariness and obscured experiences to pleasant memories and positive introspection. She magnificently projected her deeply personal and intimate album by creating a space for her audience to enjoy the full celebration of blackness and black womanhood.

The greatest expression of black celebration was when Ravyn Lenae came onto the stage to join Fatimah in the performance of “Forever”, and the amount of joy and energy within that moment took precedence of the whole show (except for maybe the encore performance of ‘Yesterday’). As both women sang and danced, bouncing off the crowd’s roaring excitement; this song became a fluid harmony between the artists on stage and the audience.

 

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Watercolor by Britt Mohr

Noname seemingly placing the order of her songs with careful consideration, greatly impacted the audience by transitioning from “Casket Pretty” (which mentions police brutality) to “Bye Bye Baby” (alluding to an experience with abortion): to combine the delicacy of sadness and hope.

“Soon I will see the King and he reminds me some get presents before they even ready”

As we danced to intense jam sessions or poetic raps, we hung onto each word bobbing along wistfully to the thematic blend that was constantly shifting in each song.

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