To put it simply, Nimbus 2.0 was a success. The groundbreaking live performance kicked off around 9:15 p.m., and from that point on, there was a nonstop flow of action coming from an extremely diverse lineup of artists. Rich Robbins said that his goal for this show was to bridge gaps by uniting the campus and local hip-hop scenes, and that’s exactly what happened.
I’ve been to a fair amount of concerts and this was the most diverse crowd, lineup and set of sounds I’ve ever seen or heard. People of different backgrounds, communities, ages and musical tastes were all there. The songs were just as diverse, taking on different sounds like trap beats, dark sounds, upbeat and light music, and even live instrumentation. Lyrics followed the same trend of diversity; love, partying, social unrest and day-to-day life were all present among the sets.
“Nimbus (Ta-Ku Interpretation),” the first song on Rich Robbins’s album Nimbus, was also the first performance at the show. Rich came out with an insane amount of energy and excitement which got us all riled up for what was to come. Everyone immediately started jumping around, a good representation of what kind of show it would be.
As far as a lineup goes, it’s hard to beat that of the Nimbus 2.0 show. An insane amount of local artists including Sean Avery, Sir Mackalot, Lucien Parker, Chetta, Charles Grant, Broadway, Chris LaBella, Trapo, Selin, Janel Lee, Since'93, 3rd Dimension, Heru, CRASHprez and, of course, Rich Robbins were all present fulfilling their artistic roles for a successful evening. Some of these artists appeared with guest verses from the Nimbus album including “Play Me,” “80s Track” and “Prayer Emoji.” In addition to the guest verses, some artists had the privilege to have their own sets interwoven between Rich Robbin’s songs. It was a great opportunity for them to showcase some of their best songs to a whole new group of people.
The most memorable of the solo sets were Broadway, Trapo and CRASHprez. Broadway started her set with an acoustic verse, and seventeen-year-old Trapo had some of his friends join him on stage, making his set even more hyped-up.
CRASHprez, arguably one of the most popular artists in the Madison scene, came out with the final solo set of the night. Overall, the show was fairly energetic and the artists put on good shows, but CRASHprez wasn’t satisfied with the crowd’s vibe. In an attempt to get everyone moving again, he got off stage and had the audience circle around him while he jumped around like a maniac; he definitely got us all pumped for the finale of the show. His short, charged, intimate set created a perfect transition to the closing song, “Dreams,” in which the artists fed off of each other’s contagious energy.
Engaging with us in the audience was one of Rich Robbin’s major strong suits. The best concerts are the ones that give you a sense of intimacy with the performer. In a venue as small as the Play Circle, every word he said seemed like it was directed straight at you. He also did a great job keeping the show going while allowing other MCs to shine. There was nothing but positivity coming from him and it was clear how proud he was that this innovative idea for a concert actually worked out.
A concert as hectic and complicated as this was definitely an ambitious idea. There were countless opportunities for a multitude of problems, and the show did have a few downfalls. Some of the microphones weren’t loud enough, the bassist for Chris LaBella’s live set was having technical difficulties at the start of his performance and, despite the high level of talent, some fans left as soon as their favorite artist performed. None of that mattered though. Rich Robbin’s optimism through the whole show made up for the few shortcomings entirely.
To close out the show, CRASHprez left the remaining crowd members with a heartfelt message of how proud he is of Rich Robbins and how important bringing these groups together truly is. Robbins thanked everyone for coming out to support him and even hinted at a new album dropping in just three short weeks. I highly recommend paying close attention to Rich Robbins this year. The Madison hip-hop scene has a lot of potential, and Rich Robbins is a prime example. He’s got big things in store for 2016 and, based on the show, he won’t disappoint.