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Theophilus London With Steven A. Clark at Grand Central, January 31

Theophilus London

With Steven A. Clark

Grand Central Miami

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Better Than: The entertainment at Fashion Week parties.

During the last New York City Fashion Week in September, Theophilus London was unavoidable. The dapper rapper/singer, who'd just released his full-length debut, Timez Are Weird These Days, for Warner Bros., performed at Tommy Hilfiger's Fashion Night Out party. He DJ-ed his own shoe launch with Cole Haan. And Karl Lagerfeld photographed him for Chanel.

Each and every fashion label on the Planet, it seemed, was trying to tap this sharp-dressed Brooklynite, who's probably better known for his eclectic hatwear than any of his songs.

London won't be gracing any of next week's Fashion Week festivities in New York City. He's on the road supporting Timez Are Weird, performing in cities where there might not even be one model or fashion designer in attendance. Though it's likely that a few of the former were present for last night's show at Grand Central: London has a fervent female following, even if the M/F ratio at this one probably skewed closer to 50/50 than normal.

Steven A. Clark
Steven A. Clark
Photo by Chesterfield Jones

Opening for London in Miami was locally based R&B auteur Steven A. Clark, whose Stripes LP was one of last year's freshest debuts. Clark used his short set, however, to test new material. The resulting performance (during which he was briefly joined onstage by rapper J. Nics and singer Albert Vargas of the Clark-affiliated Freelve Collective) was by no means slick. But it wasn't sloppy either, offering a promising glimpse of what's to come on his upcoming sophomore LP.

Later, London took over, showing his shortcomings in terms of singing and rapping talent. (He's fairly mediocre at both.) However, he made up for this skill deficit with pure presence, whether dancing spastically during uptempo tracks like "Girls Girls $" or bringing a female fan onstage to serenade her during the thus-far unreleased "Lisa."

Although his divergent musical impulses and proclivity for genre-hopping tend to be his undoing on record, they were his best asset live, as he kept the momentum going by moving from sexually frank strip club rap ("Show Me the Pretty") to New Wave-inspired emo R&B ("Why Even Try"). Only when he veered away from familiar material like "Last Name London" (which he played twice, the second in its Brodinski remix form) to test unreleased songs (including one with guest vocals piped in from Kreayshawn), did the receptive audience's energy level wane.

Theophilus London With Steven A. Clark at Grand Central, January 31
Photo by Chesterfield Jones

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I've had a few drinks with Steven A. Clark before. Good guy.

Random Detail: Theophilus London referred to his bassist, jokingly, as "Andre 6000." It wasn't clear if this was because he had tight jeans tucked into argyle sucks, or because he actually resembled Andre 3000.

The Crowd: Smartly attired blipsters (Black + hipster = blipster), fairly enthusiastic guys with highly enthusiastic girlfriends.

Steven A. Clark's Setlist

-"Love Effortlessly"

-"Found"

-"Lonely Roller" (Featuring J. Nics)

-"Seashore"

-"She's So In Love"

-"Don't Have You"

Theophilus London's Setlist

-"Last Night"

-"Rare Sex"

-"Why Even Try"

-"Last Name London"

-"Lisa"

-"Flying Oversea"

-"Girls Girls $"

-"Big Spender"

-"Last Name London" (Brodinski remix)

-"Pinky & the Brain"

-"Itaintright"

-"Groove Me"

-"I Stand Alone"

-"Strange Days"

-"All Around the World"

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