Photo by DYLAN LONG
“Are you Derick?” “Nope, I’m Bob.” Bob was the fifth person I had asked if their name is Derick, who was the tour manager coming to give me photo credentials for the sold-out Bas show at The Foundry. I’d been waiting for a delightful hour and a half downstairs at this point, passing the time away with my +2 — neither of us were on the list for the show, despite publicist assurances to the contrary. I’ve come to expect at least one thing to go completely not as originally planned when covering shows, so I figured I might as well be grateful to have gotten it out of the way before I’m even got inside the venue.
After arriving at at the Fillmore/Foundry concert industrial complex at the ridiculously early hour of 8:15 PM, making some new friends while waiting around and having finally received tickets and a photo pass just shy of 10pm, I made my way upstairs to a packed and sweaty house of eager rap fans. Finishing up was Cozz, one of many Dreamville artists on the bill for the night. Dreamville is the brainchild of the highly successful rapper J. Cole, and the home of headliner Bas. It immediately became apparent that most of the crowd and VIP guests were either diehard Dreamville fans, or directly affiliated or some combination of the two. In addition to several Dreamville artists on the bill, one of their in-house producers, Ron Gilmore, served as house keyboard player for the night. As I settled into the photo pit off towards the side of the stage, I turned to my right to see Bas pass me from backstage, received by absolutely deafening screams from the packed room.
Bas is a monster, both physically and lyrically. His movement could be described as a speedy trudge, flying back and forth at the very front of the stage, dripping sweat onto any and all fans in his path. The dude’s gotta be at least 6’2 and north of 250, and when I say that this room was steamy, I mean it. He was dripping sweat everywhere within the first sixty seconds of his set as he laid down slews of tracks like “Penthouse,” “Fiji Water in my Iron” and “Mook in New Mexico” in just the first ten minutes. Although this was his “Too High To Riot” tour in support of the album bearing the same name, his set spanned his entire discography, even jumping over to a J. Cole song that Bas and one of his guests, Omen, are both featured on.
In addition to bringing up Omen and Cozz, a British neo-soul band called The Hics were brought up to perform a song with Bas. We soon learned that Bas first met them while tripping on acid in the U.K. The frontman Sam Paul Evans immediately hit it off with Bas after meeting, and the two soon began collaborating. After an almost hour long set filled with joyous fans reciting every single lyric Bas could muster, and Bas graciously commending Philly on their allegiance to the entire Dreamville team, he closed things out with back-to-back fan favorites, “Night Job” and “Lit.” By the end of this performance, having been surrounded by only a small fraction of the amount of support that Bas is receiving from all corners, I was left with no doubt in my mind that he is well on his way towards the tippy-top of the rap game and will stop at nothing to get there. — DYLAN LONG