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Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Live: Floetry reunites to Durham's delight

Posted by on Wed, Jul 15, 2015 at 11:23 AM

click to enlarge Floetry, finally back in motion - IMAGE COURTESY OF FLOETRY
  • Image courtesy of Floetry
  • Floetry, finally back in motion
Floetry, Eric Roberson, The Foreign Exchange
Durham Performing Arts Center, Durham
Sunday, July 12, 2015

Natalie “The Floacist” Stewart’s powerful call of ”It’s my time to live right now!” carried a newfound weight on Sunday night at DPAC, during the latest stop for Floetry's reunion tour.

A response to the closing raps of Floetry’s 2002 cut, “Ms. Stress," this was not an uplifting mantra for getting over a failed relationship, but instead one for truly embracing life. Stewart drove the point home as she touched on a number of sobering issues plaguing our nation—the Charleston massacre, the rash of church conflagrations over the past month, systemic police brutality.

“We're living in a time where our children aren't safe from the police,” Stewart told the crowd before asking the duo’s fans to affirm her words of living now, also explored during a moving performance of “Hey You.” The reality of race-related problems reared its head during the previous set, too, when New Jersey-bred singer-songwriter Eric Roberson acknowledged that South Carolina had at last removed the Confederate flag from its capital.

But it was a night of celebration for every name on the lineup, too. After nearly a decade apart, Floetry patched up whatever caused their split. They appeared buoyant and, more importantly, wonderfully in sync throughout their headlining performance. Stewart and Floetry teammate Marsha “The Songstress” Ambrosius tore through fan favorites such as “Say Yes” and “Supastar,” while also dipping into their solo catalogues.

Where Stewart’s solo set was centered on words of inspiration, the self-proclaimed “classy ratchet” Ambrosius opted for the more humorous, sensual side with "Hope She Cheats On You (With A Basketball Player)" and “Your Hands.” The bedroom-themed vibes continued when Stewart rejoined her cohort, particularly for “Getting Late."

Roberson’s set, which was sandwiched between that of Floetry and openers The Foreign Exchange, brimmed with humor and showmanship. He may not be a household name, but his effortless vocals and sharp wit won the audience. A hilarious, R&B-tinged mini-set of covers didn't hurt. From Biggie’s “Big Poppa” through A Tribe Called Quest’s “Electric Relaxation,” the entire crowd’s energy (and enjoyment) was palpable. And sure enough, everyone remained on Roberson's side during performances of the Boomerang-referencing “Mark On Me,” banter-filled “Borrow You,” and the closing track, in which he created an absurd new number based on words provided by the attendees—“bootymeat” and “sidepiece,” among them.

The night’s ebullience wouldn’t have been possible without The Foreign Exchange, who kicked off the show with one of their tightest sets to date. They mixed newer tunes (“The Moment,” “So What If It Is”) and older jams (“Take Off the Blues,” “Daykeeper”). There were covers here, too—Jungle Brothers’ “I’ll House You” and Migos’ “Handsome and Wealthy." Those were segues and accents rather than standalone performances.

Frontman Phonte Coleman’s presence has always been impressive, but his vocals sounded stronger than ever, thanks in part to backup singers Carmen Rodgers and Durham’s own Tamisha Waden. Expect them to play a big role in the group’s upcoming album, Tales From the Land of Milk and Honey.

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