Event Review by Cameron Tendaji | @illumindaji
Music Editor

As many of you know, live music events are a personal favorite of mine. So covering 808 Entertainment’s Reverb Vol. 4 event was a definite no-brainer for me. I always appreciate the opportunity to be in an environment where artistry (especially black artistry) is encouraged and not suppressed. The mood and tone were set as the audience walked in to enjoy soulful music provided by The Tribe Band, as the lights were set low to a variety of different hues of blue and red. The hostess for the evening was none other than Moriah Marie (@moclassified) who oozed confidence as she took to the stage to encourage the audience to stay engaged and to feed the artists positive energy.   A motif that she made clear throughout the night is that Dallas CAN compete with cities like Atlanta and LA through us supporting one another. A particular quote that stuck with me was “Some artists feel like they have to be that one person to put Dallas on, and that’s where the problem lies”, which is a pertinent reminder that through unity great things can be accomplished.

The first artist (out of a 3 artist set piece) to grace the stage was Demi Lavoyce (@demilavoyce). My first impression of her when she began to sing was “That is such a massive and expressive voice for such a petite frame”. She is also multitalented as she works in photography, videography, and even producing her own music. I had heard that she just recently came back to music. This is definitely apparent by the way she performs. You can see how her face lights up with joy and enthusiasm as she performs the music that she created. I was able to catch up with her briefly after she left the stage and she was an absolute joy to speak with. It’s always exciting to me to see artists enjoying what they do rather than going through the motions, which can happen so often. It’ll be exciting to see her grow as she continues her musical journey. A particular favorite song of mine was “When I Find Love” which she finishes the lyric with “I’ma hold on to it”. I was very impressed by her lyrics and the control she has over her voice.

The next artist to perform was Blythe Dennis ( @_singinbae_). I have been listening to her music for a few years now, and I can honestly say that she is a vocalist that understands her voice inside and out. With every run and riff, she knows exactly what to do and when to do to give a consistently professional level performance. She performed two of my favorite songs “I Get Lonely” by Janet Jackson and “The Way” by Jill Scott as she segued into tracks from her latest project “The Heartbreak EP”. The project is laden with songs about realizing your self-worth and having self-love after a break-up. The highlight for me (and others) from the evening performance is “Situationship”. Her vocals on the song are like satin and perfectly complement the melodic and chromatic progressions that are significant motifs. Definitely looking forward to the next project.

The last (but definitely not least) artist of the evening was Reuben Lael (@reubengotsoul). All metaphors and literal devices aside…Reuben is dope AF. He is an all-around artist. He is an incredible performer. He kept the crowd engaged his entire time on stage, encouraging them to sing along by evoking the classic call and response method yielding effective results. He is also an accomplished musician, and that is highlighted by the way his music is composed. Sudden changes in key or syncopation, the way Reuben was able to control the band and have them follow him all while he performed vocal acrobatics. I caught quick glimpses of the band and you could tell the musicians had just as much fun playing as Reuben did performing. There was a perfect balance of control with spontaneity. Kicking off with “Turning Me Up” by BJ The Chicago Kid…. a favorite of mine… it’s also as if these artists know my entire life… as he transitioned into his original music. He delivers a message of positivity and being the light in the darkness. The highlight for me was his performance of “You Make My World Better”, which made my inner musician smile.

To conclude, this was a solid event with even more solid performances. It is important that artists have these platforms to perfect their craft and share their music. It is even more important that we protect these safe spaces and continue to support as audiences. After this event concluded, I was able to pose this question to several individuals: “how important do you think an event like Reverb is to the culture of Dallas?”, and I received very inspiring answers.

“This event is very important, I love it. It gives the artist a chance to unleash and tell the story behind the music. You get to really meet the artist and go through their journey and learn what they learned.”- Demi Lavoyce

“It gives us (underground artists) an opportunity to connect with our crowd, showcase our music, and test it out. It lets us see what audiences like, don’t like, and allows us to further develop as artists ourselves.”- Reuben Lael

“We lack support for our own artists…. We’re quick to buy CDs/stream and support artists who don’t know us…when we have just as much talent right here in Dallas… and Reverb gives people a chance to be exposed to that talent”- Fred Williams

So I want to give a major shout out to Joshua Allen (Founder of 808 Entertainment, and also a good friend of mine), for following his dream, building a solid team, and curating these events for local artists so that they can be seen and heard. We Cosign you all. Be on the look out for their next Protools event in April. Check out footage from the show below!

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