Macy Gray at the Bowery Ballroom in NYC: The thing I love most about debut promotional tours is the bull that people love to say
about the new artists. How wonderful and revolutionary the artist and their sound is. Then
they turn out to be the worst live act you’ve ever seen or heard. I began pondering this
issue in regard to the person I was about to see perform. The burning question on my mind was,
Who the Hell is Macy Gray? and how do all of these people know about her when she hasn’t
even released a single yet.
I am assuming that this chick is good because on this warm night the Bowery ballroom
is packed. She has only had one other NYC performance and that was at SOB’s a month prior.
If that performance had anywhere near this many people her debut album will do very well.
I made my way upstairs to the VIP section and took my throne right next to the engineers
booth and waited for the show to begin. What was supposed to be a 9 p.m. start turned into
a two hour wait. I see the diva drama already starting before the first album is even
released. While waiting for the show to start I noticed the list of songs to be played,
along with the encore (How contrived can we get). I’m trying to keep an open mind, as a rush of
pissed off anxiety came over me.
The crowd was kept pacified with a DJ playing the best house and hip hop mix I’ve heard
since Little Louie Vega. I prayed...this was not the highlight of the night.
Finally the lights dim and appears the main event of the night Macy Gray with an 11 piece
band, including horn section and DJ, backing her up. The Band—unbelievable. Throwing down
old school Cameo, Rick James, and Parliament style funk. With Hip hop and reggae ingredients
spread thinly over guitar riffs and soulful wails. Music rarely heard coming from a female.
The 29-year old raspy voiced siren. Whose vocal styling is a cross between blues great muddy
waters and jazz songstress Abbey Lincoln. Macy should be crowned female impresario of Funk.
With her own special fusion of funk, hip-hop, rock and soul. The crowd was pumped up
as she’s was making it funky for you on songs like Sex-o-matic, and Why don’t you call me.
She brought reggae in on the song Murder, and slowed it down for us on the ballad Still.
While harkening us on the next piece to Do Something. The title track from her upcoming
debut album On How Life Is. She made her Television debut on The Late Show with
David Letterman on July 28th.
There are write ups everywhere about her, in Vibe, Vogue and on the Internet. The Ohio
native, who resides in L.A. notices the buzz surrounding her debut, as she states in her
song Do Something "I’m the latest craze." Maybe the buzz is coming from the fact that she
wrote all of the songs on her album, something she might have picked up, while
studying screenwriting at USC. The video for her title track seems to be in heavy rotation
on The Box Music channel. But Let’s get back to the voice. At first I thought it was an act.
the guy standing next to me said "her Buckwheat vocals are starting to annoy me.
she might sing like that but she couldn’t possibly talk this way—her friends would kill her."
During the show she did have some dialogue with the audience and to his shock she spoke like
this. The NYC masses seemed to be enthralled by her commanding them to sing along,
raspy voice and all. I thought to myself I haven’t heard a single song from her on the radio
but apparently she has a following here in New York. To answer my first question,
who the hell is Macy Gray?—The answer—she is the Funky diva of the next millennium.
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