One of the unexpected surprises of the night was the high-energy, eighties-infused set from opener Boulevards–stage name for Raleigh, North Carolina based R&B/soul musician Jamil Rashad. The funky, disco-inspired grooves initially seemed like a mismatch for the tour, but the uptempo set balanced out what could have been an entirely chill night. At times, the music felt so retro it could’ve easily accompanied a party scene in a Ghostbusters or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie. Joined on-stage by his DJ Dirtyfinger, Boulevards covered a lot of ground, traversing the stage and jumping onto the speakers to get a little closer to the crowd. He ended his set in Soul Train fashion, jumping into the crowd only to part it for a dance line for the entirety of his last song. If his high energy wasn’t enough to win fans over, his engaging dance party of an ending surely did the trick.
The second surprise–for some in the crowd–came in the form of headliner Rhye. For those who may have only heard the album and seen both album covers, it may come as a surprise that Rhye is a man. With a voice with an uncanny resemblance to Sade’s it is hard to believe that the whispering contralto emanates from a man named Milosh. After the initial shock from some fans, the understated beauty of the performance set in. The largely down-tempo set was perfectly punctuated by the few tracks that were slightly more upbeat and faster-paced like crowd favorite “Taste.” The real beauty of this performance was in the moments of softness and stillness. It’s rare to see a venue the size of Thalia Hall reduced to silence, waiting in hushed anticipation for the decrescendo to turn into a vocal solo, but Rhye accomplished just that. Rhye performed many of the tracks off his latest release Blood, including “Song For You,” “Count To Five,” and “Waste,” as well as old favorites “Open” and “Fall.” The performance overall was soft, sweet, and sensual–the perfect set for a romantic date night.