Sequels don’t often supersede the originals in a fashion where you come away with an equal-to or same-as result, and what I was anticipating this time around – well, I don’t even know what I was anticipating, but I was excited to see them both because Isaiah’s Cilvia Demo had months of breathing and the popularity definitely increased from the first show. Tre Mission just recently released Stigmata, but he’s been on a tear when it came to doing shows (the prior weekend, he opened for J.Cole at a free show where he was cut-off early – which was shitty). The two of them have generally grown since February in terms of their respective bases, and those who heard words of encouragement from the first show, they made sure to attend this time around. But with Manifesto being the curator (in partnership with Red Bull Sound Select), there were other artists from home that had the opportunity to bless the stage. For the first night of the 8th year of Manifesto, it definitely started off with heavy momentum that would lead into the final stanza being the free showcase @ Yonge-Dundas Square with notable headliners like Raury, Bishop Nehru & Ryan Leslie.
I was given a bit of a side eye when I said that I didn’t know (or wasn’t familiar with) Dillan Ponders. There are a lot of artists in this city I’m not aware about, but for some reason, me not knowing this one was a standout. I hadn’t listened to his music (obviously), so I didn’t have any expectations when it came to seeing his live performance. Performing tracks from his album, The Boy Who Lived, there’s definitely been a cry (depending on who you speak to) about the lack of Trap & Turn up music being cultivated in our city. For one, I didn’t think that he had one to begin with, because the mantra of Toronto Hip Hop has always been on a conscious wave for as long as I could remember, but with Dillan he brings that (what I call) Conscious-Trap. He was speaking with some relevance to every day issues (the songs, I don’t remember specifically), but he brought his energy to the stage that at least got some people in the crowd moving (Toronto crowds aren’t known to show openers love, so you can gauge an idea of how the crowd was responding at the time). With dreadlocks flowing everywhere and the bright lights beating down, he delivered in entertaining fashion. I wasn’t particularly moved by much to the point where I would rush to my computer or phone to search for his music, but it could be the case of the studio tracks being better than the live performance, because there were some dope beats that I was bopping to.
Thankfully, there weren’t a lot of openers before the headliner, because as much as Revival is a nice venue, it was hot, and you know when you mix warmth, a crowd at capacity, and alcohol together; not many good things, and patience wouldn’t be something that people would be having that night, although the vibes were cool and everyone was enjoying themselves, mingling and whatnot. Tasha The Amazon was next up, and with a name like that, I was expecting a woman to be about 6’3 and thick, but that wasn’t the case. She was small, but fiery in size. Representing for the female emcees, like Dillan, she too had the turn up music, and also attempted a stage dive that went south, but the people came through and carried her on their arms to the tune of Rick Ross’ Hold Me Back. Minus the slight error, it was entertaining. You don’t often see rappers stage dive – unless you’re Odd Future. I also love the fact that her album is entitled FIDIYOOTDEM (translation: For the Youth/Children). She too didn’t move the interest meter on my end, but for performances sake, she came, we saw, and she conquered the stage. Respect.
Mr. Mission was still holding onto frustrations with the Mountain Dew show that cut him off (apparently for swearing) and although the section I was in was harsh towards his performance, there were people close to the stage that were urging the people to bring him back on to finish his set. With the successes of MALMAISON & Stigmata, he appeared in an Andrew Wiggins commercial providing the soundtrack, and that is (to quote Joe Biden), a big fucking deal. He’s well on his way to stepping up to the plate and aiming for the next plateau of success that will come his way, but first, a show must be put on. He performed tracks from the aforementioned projects and gradually, from the first track to the last, the reactions of the crowd grew more and appreciative of his dynamic & aggressive delivery. Flashlight Woah was the popular one in store (if he performed In The Hallway it would have been dangerously hype in the venue) and I believe some new fans were made that night. I was happy for him, as I wish for more success to come his way.
Prior to entering Revival, the long crowd that formed outside and into the grocery store/Tim Horton’s parking lot was gargantuan. If you knew someone going to the show, it was a good time to look for someone. Thankfully I did, and wouldn’t you know, Isaiah Rashad just happened to be at the phone hanging out. I went up to say what’s up, and it was clear he was a combination of high & drunk, yet functional. Cool moment was when he was trying to do the Shmoney Dance, but it wasn’t good, so I proceeded to demonstrate – that was better than a selfie for Instagram in my eyes. Fast forward, it was time for the man of the hour. There was a significantly larger crowd than the show in February at Tattoo, so you knew it was going to get rowdy. He performed all but 2 tracks from Cilvia (including Banana, which he teased with last time, but didn’t perform the whole way through). He also dug into Welcome To The Game once again and performed Hurt Cobaine, which is a personal favourite of mine.
The problem with his set was that it ran on way longer than it should. It was a lot of stop & go, and a lot of crowd interaction. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it constantly threw off the momentum of the show. It caused for people to leave early because it was going into the 1 o’clock hour and people (like myself) had to work in the morning. That’s my only knock on it. The crowd really got hype when his DJ played Bobby Shmurda’s Hot Nigga, Rae Sremmud’s No Flex Zone, OG Maco’s U Guessed It (I still don’t care about that song, although it’s the next big hit), and overall the first day of Manifesto was a good one for the organization itself and the people who ventured out to engulf themselves with good music.
Who knows who’ll be the next dope artists to grace the Manifesto stages, because there have been many good ones in the past, but for the time being, we’ll appreciate what’s here currently and bask in the moments to come.
That’s My Word & It STiXX