Zero Fatigue at Thalia Hall

By Mari General

Photos by Lauren Washington

23 Nov, 2019

The line for grammy nominated Zero Fatigue wrapped around the block. Zero Fatigue is a record label and music collective that has transformed what hip hop can sound and look like. Based in Chicago and St. Louis, the collective has garnered attention of people from all walks of life who enjoy their funky rhymes and beats. At this sold out show, we were graced with the performances of Monte Booker and Smino. The opener was Schenay Mosley, Smino’s back up singer with powerful vocals and stage presence.

Mosley came out in a silver glittery suit that left our mouths gaping. Without even singing yet, the audience was already blown away by her beauty — she was literally sparkling before us. Her fingertips glided over the keys and filled the room with a sweet melody. When she opened her mouth and began to sing, the whole audience was moved. She sang soulfully and precisely.

“Too Cold” resonated with the audience. The song is about a lover who constantly tries “to make it perfect” and “wants to relax [their] mind.” The lover is tired because they know “shit ain’t workin’” and has grown too cold for their partner. As she sang “too cold,” the crowd sang along “for you.” Mosley’s performance set the tone right for Zero Fatigue to take the stage.

First off, Monte Booker is one of the most talented producers out of Chicago. He has produced tracks for not only Smino but Saba, Mick Jenkins, Noname, Kyle, Ravyn Lenae and many more. His production is a foundation of the musical shift in hip hop.

He started the night off right with “Kompany,” one of the first tracks released by Zero Fatigue. His performance mixed old classics with new jams that had the entire crowd grooving. Booker proved his artistic genius not only through his precise transitions and mixes, but by connecting with the crowd. He played “Slow Jamz” and that definitely set the party off right for the Chicago audience. His set was filled with other Chicago artists like Saba and Chance the Rapper. Booker wrapped up with unreleased instrumentals that filled the room with excitement and anticipation. He concluded the night with Smino by his side. Following Smino’s lead, the crowd yelled in unison “Monte! Monte! Monte!” as he transitioned into a Zero Fatigue oldie, “Kolors.”

This dynamic duo had the entire hall singing along.

At 10:45, four hours after we got in line, we saw Smino.

Before I continue, I want it to be known that this was by far one of my favorite concerts. Northwestern students who were also in attendance exclaimed that this show was far superior than Smino’s performance at A&O Blowout 2018.

His performance started with “Reverend” and we sure went to church with that song. Smino has a powerful ability to captivate the audience with his cadence and rhythm. Soon after, he burst into “TEQUILA MOCKINGBIRD,” a groovy song that built momentum for the rest of the night.

When Smino performs, his body moves the way his words do. During “Netflix and Dusse,” he got on his knees as he confessed to us how she made him feel in the song. Throughout the concert, his stage presence matched the music. We could feel the passion and joy in his songs.

He performed a range of music from blkswn to NOIR to unreleased tracks. He ended with “KLINK” despite the audience’s chants for “Trina.” He ended with bringing a lot of people on stage, including one artist named Jordan who performed a song as Smino signed sneakers and threw them into the audience.