Audience, artists lively at Summit Shack rap night

Andrew Bailey and Andrew Bailey

On Jan. 31 in an unassuming garage on the corner of East Evers Avenue and North Summit Street, the Summit Shack, had their first night of rap music in over a month. With a set list of six rappers set to perform that night, the organizers behind the Summit Shack, with Conor Kinkade as the booker for events, were set to have a night highlighting some local rappers in the area.

According to Joj Hartman, who helped organize the event and is one half of ThinkLess, the openers for the night, they wanted to give rap the spotlight it often doesn’t receive in the DIY music scene.

The doors opened at 7 p.m., and by 8 p.m., an audience of around 20 were gathered in the Shack, ready for a night of spitting rhymes and juicy beats.

ThinkLess began their set at around 8:15 p.m., and right off the bat, PonZ, the other half of ThinkLess, established a fun camaraderie with the crowd and an atmosphere fit for the diverse styles of music to come that night. Multiple artists throughout the event interacted with the crowd in unique ways, making them stand out and their set more memorable.

Before they went into their first song, “Something Special,” PonZ burned sage incense and spread rosemary to set the mood and “fill the void.” This laidback vibe was perfect, as “Something Special” had a simple yet catchy beat, provided by Hartman, that paired well with the aromatic incense and his floaty voice. They closed their set with “Divinity to Infinity,” off of their upcoming EP of the same name.

The audience was gradually increasing in size, and as ThinkLess finished their set and the second performer of the night, Areizaga, prepared for his set, the Shack had amassed close to 30 people bobbing their heads to the waxy vocals and slick beats.

The Shack promised artists with varied styles of rap, and Areizaga’s performance jarringly contrasted with the prior one.

He described his music as “aggressive rap” and “a mix of trap and metal.” He got the audience headbanging to screamed vocals and stuck to his word with an aggressive rap style, pumping them up for more. It was his first time performing in front of a live audience, and although his nervousness was apparent, everyone at the Shack was clearly there to support one another in their artistic endeavors, as they encouraged him to power through slip-ups.

“They made me feel very happy to be there, 100%,” he said.

Zeke Smyth, who was BGSU’s Freddie Falcon from 2018 to 2019, was up next and his amiable nature was highlighted, as he established a rapport with the crowd early on by mimicking Freddie Mercury’s famous crowd control

“The crowd control part was to have everybody catch the same vibe I was feeling. I thought it would be kind of cool to have everyone’s attention in the room and have them kind of rock out with me as a whole.” he said.

Going into Smyth’s set, the audience was at its peak for the night, reaching almost 40 people packed wall-to-wall. With the crowd at such a size and the audience becoming more and more invested in each artist, they were interacting with the crowd to great reception, with cheers, hollers, beats and rhymes reverberating off the cushioned walls to create an environment that everyone was participating in.

Smyth was followed by King Zelly, who’s self-described “smooth hip-hop sound with soulful flavor” harkened back to ThinkLess’ performance earlier in the night. He was equally participatory with the crowd, getting them to smoothly clap along to his melodies.

Although the sounds and styles of the night jumped around just as much as the crowd, the lack of a cohesive structure for the event evolved over the night fit well with the atmosphere of the Shack. The crowd was there to vibe out with some local artists and whatever songs they wanted to sing for them. The only mood they needed was fun, and that’s the mood they got.

The penultimate rapper of the night, Douggy, got the crowd to loosen themselves up for the last leg, performing impromptu calisthenics with them. They needed the stretch, as his self-described “hype struggle music” got the packed garage invested emotionally with his personal lyrics, especially his song “Artifact,” and hopping around like a pen full of rabbits.

To close the night, Masakiio and his self-described “fresh video game-influenced take on experimental hip-hop,” performed songs off of his album “Gameboy Masakiio” and an untitled song from his upcoming sophomore album as the last song of the night, ending at around 11:15.

As the night went on, the crowd became more and more involved in the artist’s performances, and the artists met them in the middle (in Douggy’s case, literally, as he jumped out into the crowd during his performance).

The Summit Shack was unsure of how the event would turn out initially, but they knew their devoted base of close friends, as well as the performers’ friends, would make for a fun night. But, according to Hartman, they were happily surprised by the turnout they had, filling the Shack to an almost shoulder-to-shoulder capacity.

“We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out. The audience was into it and all the performers were enjoying themselves so much,” he said. “The great crowd at this event let us know that we definitely need to do stuff like this more often.”

The Summit Shack can be found on Facebook and Twitter with information on upcoming events.