Tuesday Night: Theophilus London at Rokbar

Theophilus London
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Rokbar, Miami Beach

Better than: The current wave of hipster-hop.

I'll start off by admitting I don't know much about the up-and-coming singer/MC Theophilus London expect that he's from Brooklyn, he performed with Solange Knowles at SXSW and has a mixtape out called This Charming Mixtape. I'll so admit I find the fact that before his performance at Rokbar Tuesday night I had probably only heard two minutes of his mixtape and not much else pretty exciting. Why? Because it gives me an unbiased starting point from which I can form my own opinions about Theophilus.

What remarkably sets Theophilus apart from other hipster-hop artists like The Cool Kids, Kid Sister or (forgive me for mentioning their name) LMFAO, is that his sound tends to fall more on the side of R&B than hip-hop, meaning he can actually carry a soulful note as well as spitting it out with the best of them.

When Theophilus took that small stage set up by the bar at Rokbar, it

was 1:45 a.m. and I was wondering if it was going to be worth losing

sleep to see him perform. That

night, less than 100 people turned up for the show, which for Rokbar's

size is enough for the place to feel comfortably full.

As soon as the spotlight hit him, Theophilus

instantly showed how confident he is as a performer. The odds were stacked

against him, primarily because he was performing for a crowd who had

never seen him much less heard of him before. Though despite

Theophilus' strong start the crowd reacted mostly with a blank stare.

It wasn't until he kicked into his track "Always Love U," which he

pleasantly stunned the crowd with an electro-fied sample of Whitney

Houston's cover of "I Will Always Love You," that the tides turned for

him. Everyone started to finally let loose and dance along with him and

the two makeshift "backup dancers" that joined him on the bar top.


I'm not going to sit here saying it was the greatest performance I've

ever seen -- it wasn't. But hype's a bitch, and I doubt Theophilus

wants to go down that soon. If he keeps it up, he might have a long

career ahead of him.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I'm a sucker for well used cheesy samples.

Random Detail: Despite Rokbar's lack of a proper stage, I was surprised how well the space worked as an intimate performance venue.

By the Way: Theophilus performed the following night at LIV's Wednesday night party Dirty Hairy.

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Jose D. Duran is the associate editor of Miami New Times. He's the strategist behind the publication's eyebrow-raising Facebook and Twitter feeds. He has also been reporting on Miami's cultural scene since 2006. He has a BS in journalism and will live in Miami as long as climate change permits.
Contact: Jose D. Duran