GROOVL1N USA Tour: Chicago Review
XYDO and RAVI surpassed some initial bumps in the road to make sure this tour persevered and became one to remember.
Setting Expectations for Reviewing This Show
There are several things about the GROOVL1N USA Tour that make grading it unique. First of all, RAVI’s music in particular is an acquired taste. He uses autotune as an instrument, a stylistic choice rather than a practical one. There is an artful way to electronify vocals, and RAVI has nailed it. However, those who most admire stripped-back live shows might have left disappointed. Second of all, the GROOVL1N Tour cannot be graded like other Korean artists’ tours because its format is so different. K-pop groups deliver choreography-filled, intricately detailed performances, often with massive special effects. Solo rap and hip-hop artists, on the other hand, cannot rely on synchronized moves or a big spectacle to keep the audience’s attention. Instead, they have to amaze with solely their music and stage presence, and XYDO and RAVI certainly did.
One metric that can be used when reviewing this show is audience enthusiasm. It says something about a show when it creates an atmosphere of good vibes only. The crowd stayed actively engaged in the show, and there was no pushing or shoving each other. The crowd moved as one big blob of people just happy to be there and have a drama-free night. The feeling in the air was polite but excited, and the show was made fully complete thanks to its animated, joyful audience.
How the Night Unfolded
The first performer of the night was XYDO, who powered through song after song while wearing a t-shirt he proudly announced was purchased in Chicago. His setlist encompassed his versatile discography, and his stage presence was a delight; he exchanged cute comments and giggles with the crowd between songs. XYDO ensured his performance was anything but forgettable, with his likable personality and lovely voice. Those who went just to see GROOVL1N CEO RAVI do what he does best ought to have been pleasantly surprised witnessing XYDO do the same.
When it was his turn, without a moment to spare, RAVI replaced XYDO on stage and dove headfirst into rapid-fire rapping. Wearing a shirt with sleeves short enough to show off his tattoos and performing like he was born to, RAVI proved to be a true “Rockstar”! He packed an immense amount of songs, both in terms of style and quantity, into his set, and he barely took a minute to catch his breath between songs.
The last portion of the show featured XYDO and RAVI performing together, in a segment that felt like they were responding to an audience suggestion box! Fan favorites like “Nirvana” finally got their time to shine, and XYDO performed an encore rendition of “OOTD,” the song the audience had reacted to the most enthusiastically earlier that night (to which XYDO had said something along the lines of “I’ll make a note of that for later”!).
With arms around each other, XYDO and RAVI left the stage with an air of triumph and relief. Although their tour plans went through many unexpected hurdles, including lineup changes and a postponement, that moment was a visual representation of their determination to overcome those unfortunate circumstances and have a “the show must go on” mentality. The audience similarly took the changes in stride, making sure the tour delay and loss of two lineup members did not spoil their positive attitude.
Making the Most of Limiting Circumstances
As much as Cold Bay and nafla were missed, the silver lining of their absences was getting to know the other two acts better. XYDO and RAVI both had plenty of time to show off the ranges in their separate discographies, followed by a round of songs that showed off the best of both musical worlds combined. Both artists got to stay in their element for an extended period of time, basking in it while uninterrupted and unrushed. The two of them got to reunite at the end of the night to exemplify the ways their sounds can be compared and contrasted; the audience left knowing the distinctions between their discographies but also understanding the reasons why they are under the same company. In other words, the time spent with XYDO, with RAVI, and then with the two of them epitomized GROOVL1N Records.
The show had no grand introduction, no transitions, and no special effects, if not counting spotlights. There were no costume changes. There was no live band, although a DJ was there. Interruptions between songs were seldom. What this show did have, however, was a pair of artists determined to bring the same amount of personality to their concerts as the one audiences expect from more extravagant productions. RAVI shimmied and jumped around the stage from song to song, throwing water into the enthusiastic crowd, and XYDO proved himself to be a compelling crooner. XYDO and RAVI did a lot with a little, and so although this show might have not reached its full potential, the two did what they could with what they had to guarantee a great night would still be had by all.
While the relatively plain setup and the heavy focus on electronic vocals might not have pleased everyone, the show was still memorable and worth attending. It would have been exciting to see the four-artist show that was originally planned, but having just a two-artist show brought unexpected perks. It introduced the crowd to the artists’ discographies’ depth and breadth in ways they would not have been able to with a more packed lineup, and it allowed the audience to watch XYDO’s and RAVI’s compelling dynamic as a duo.
Overall, the GROOVL1N Tour’s Chicago stop was a fun promotion of the artists’ work and a feel-good night worth remembering. Despite the bare-bones structure, the show did have a sense of completeness to it, thanks to the fans. In addition to the crowd, other pros that outweighed the cons included the massive setlist and the artists’ ceaseless energy.
Check out some of the show’s highlights below!
You can also hear more of my thoughts on the concert on this podcast episode!