Ayokay at Lincoln Hall

By Ronit Kitei

23 Oct, 2019

Ten minutes before the show started, there were only twenty people in the audience. As people began to stream in, Wingtip came on with solely an electric guitar and a single spotlight. Though previously familiar with only one of Wingtip’s — or DJ Nick Perloff-Giles’ — songs, I quickly found myself swaying to his electro-pop disco beats. By his second song, the room was full, both with people and with shouts of “I fucking love you!” This change in dynamic was largely due to the two boys who sprinted through the crowd to the front, chanting “Wingtip” and yelling at everyone to jump and sing along as his set picked up pace. I later realized these were Ayokay’s photographers. When Wingtip transitioned into a slow song, they got the crowd to wave flashlights. Single handedly, they got a largely drunk crowd who mostly only knew two songs to scream euphorically. Wingtip moved from song to song, barely even breaking to introduce himself, with nothing backing him but a computer playing his background beats, a loop pedal, and his guitar. He was fully absorbed in his music, breaking out into many awkwardly lovable dance moves. As the girl standing next to me remarked, “He looked like he was having the time of his life.”

Ayokay’s set started not with himself, but with a random man in a giant furry suit. After hyping up the crowd for a few minutes, Alex O’Neill, also known as Ayokay, came out to “Things Fall Apart,” a song from his latest EP, we come alive. We come alive is the first record O’Neill has released on which he sings every song, and it is lyrically much more profound than some of his earlier music. After “Things Fall Apart,” he stopped to introduce himself and graciously speak about how — since opening Lincoln Hall for childhood best friend Quinn XCII in 2016 — it had been his dream to headline it with a band of his own. He then transitioned into an expert compilation of “Swing Swing” and “Sleepyhead.” Throughout the set, he mixed many of his songs together, seamlessly switching from one to the other without any awkwardness or gaps. Though O’Neill did not leave the cage-like light box onstage until his encore, he was effortlessly connecting with each and every member of the audience.

I had the unique experience of standing next to his sister, who had come to surprise him at his show. She jokingly told me how he made fun of her for singing too loudly at his shows — which turned out to be a promise she, and everyone around her, lived up to. Crowd favorites included both old and new songs, those with and without him singing. Specifically, the crowd knew every word to “California Will Never Rest,” “The Shine,” “Queen,” “Dear Luca,” and of course, the song that started it all, “Kings of Summer.” A set highlight for me was when he played an unreleased song from side B of his latest EP called “You Think Too Much.” Though I liked his music going into the show, I was somewhat shocked by how much I enjoyed seeing Ayokay live. His voice was smooth and somewhat hypnotic, and his energy on stage was palpable. He took breaks to talk to the crowd — and even to take a tequila shot on stage so he could drink with the crowd. It was rare to not see him smiling or moving, and this attitude was infectious. I am very excited to see what he releases next.

 

SET LIST

  1. Things Fall Apart
  2. Swing Swing / Sleepyhead
  3. California Will Never Rest
  4. You Think Too Much
  5. You’re Not Here / Stay With Me
  6. Ocean Front Apt / The Shine
  7. Queen
  8. Move On
  9. Wasted Touch / Dear Luca
  10.  Sleeping Next to You / Kids MGMT Cover
  11.  Encore: Sleepless Nights / Kings of Summer