The premature cold breezing through Madison seemed to subside as hip hop artist Noname graced the stage with her warm spunk at the Majestic Theatre on Monday. Body heat collected as the sold-out crowd grooved to her bouncy grooves, and the warmth of her wide, toothy smile — which never waned during her brief and energetic set — could have melted the iciest of hearts.
Noname (Fatimah Nyeema Warner) was a ray of sunshine from the very beginning of the show, starting her jams off with “Sunny Duet,” a track from her sole mixtape, Telefone. She continued the fun by following the ditty with “Diddy Bop,” hardly taking time to breathe as the beat seamlessly flowed into the second song. The constant stream of music kept the energy going both on the stage and in the crowd. Noname and her band never stopped stepping to the beat, and the crowd swayed and sang along as if we were all at a party with hundreds of our old friends.
Noname kept the audience comfortable and interacted with us at almost every chance she could. She prompted us to sing, checked to make sure we were comfortable, all while sipping on tea and rocking a Lil’ Kim t-shirt, just like your traditional grandmother.
Eventually, after several gently upbeat songs, the lights softened to a smokey blue and Noname’s band fell silent. Cheers rose from the crowd, but Noname shushed them as she giggled angelically. After several seconds of quiet, she began her song “Casket Pretty,” which draws attention to the dangers of living in Chicago — Noname’s hometown — particularly for people of color.
She ended with Telefone’s final track, “Shadow Man,” which showcased the talented R&B rhythms of her band. This short set — it lasted less than an hour, as she rapidly jived through the 10 tracks on her only album — was not enough for the Madison crowd, as a rowdy call for an encore erupted after the song’s end. Chants of “We want Noname!” and “One more song!” eventually coaxed the artist back out. She again quieted the audience, but signaled them to sing along once she got to the second verse of “Yesterday.”
Having seen Noname twice previously, I can easily say this show was by far my favorite. She’s gotten more confident in the last year and focuses more on having fun and making sure the crowd is too rather than simply giving a performance. It’s clear on her face that she is enjoying every second of what she’s doing, and that was infectious. Although the set was short and I did want to see a little more, I think she delivered all she could and then some. Now her joyful smile is ingrained in my brain to get me through the wait until the next time she rolls into Madison.