‘Rock star’ – is defined as “a famous and successful singer or performer of rock music”. Alternatively, a rock star is “a person treated as a celebrity, especially in inspiring fanatical admiration”. As guitar music seemingly wanes, hip-hop artists are lauded as the new revolutionaries, though much of the themes their music consists of remains the same – sex, drugs and rock ‘n’ roll.
With The Academy thronged with giddy teens; chants of ‘blackbear‘ echoing off the walls, you’d have reason to believe that Matthew Tyler Musto is a fully-fledged rock star. It’s a sold out, 14+ gig, so you’d be forgiven for automatically drawing some conclusions – the first being that blackbear is probably very good-looking, the second being that he sings about the perils of drinking, partying and falling in love. Because that’s what the kids want, right?
Opening with hell is where i dreamt of you and woke up alone (millenials hate captilisation as well, it seems), a shaky opening can be put down to a piss-poor sound set-up. As the song progresses, the vocal is so garbled it’s hard to discern whether he’s actually singing through a vocoder or he just sounds like that. Lyrically, it’s near impossible to make anything out.
2moodz is revealed to be the next song thanks to the title being splayed on a graphic on stage, it’s bizarrely interspersed with clips from The Simpsons. The female revellers among the crowd are truly “feeling themselves”. These songs are as much their stories as they are his – manic highs, crippling lows, pierced with tales of rejection and heartbreak, albeit liberally decorated with class A drugs.
He’s stronger on wish u the best, supported by his saxophonist, his percussionist and a launchpad. Sound issues affect girls like u, the mic screeching unbearably and amps crackling as he lazily ad-libs. chateau is another over-the-top mess. Frustratingly, however, it’s also a glimmer of a moment that shows what blackbear could be as an artist if he reined it in a bit. His vocals are suited for pop punk, and his energy is hard to ignore. Why the unnecessary bravado? The ham-hock harmonising? The million different effects being utilised at once?
But something about it all feels a little … Off. There he stands, bleach blonde, tattooed, decked out in denim, seemingly enamoured by girls and guys a like – probably because he’s white and his brand of hip-hop/pop/rap rock is accessible to them. They beg to be baptised by his backwashed Ballygowan, as he says, “Many of my songs are about my ex-f*cking-c*nt b*tch girlfriends”. It’s wholly uncomfortable to watch girls as young as 14 overlook statements as deeply misogynistic as this, especially from a man who is approaching his 30s.
There are parents looking on bewildered as he asks rhetorically, “How dirty was Dublin though? I don’t think we’re gonna see no titties though”. You’d be forgiven for thinking he’s in his early twenties, as the background for shake ya consists of close up shouts of asses form various animes. You’d probably almost forgive him if he was – “He’s young, he’s finding his feet in the industry, he’s just a typical boy singing about typical boys.” But to be 27 years of age singing, “I might be white/But I fuck like I’m hood?” Tone deaf, in more ways than one.