The screens that backlit the stage at TroyBoi’s sold-out show at the Majestic this Thursday displayed a wide swath of striking imagery to accompany his driving beats throughout the show. The screens flashed from pseudo-religious symbolism to traditionally psychedelic patterns to clips of a car chase from Gangster Squad with little logic or sense, yet somehow emphasizing the tone of his sound. Though most of these vignettes were arresting in their execution, the one that became most memorable was a downpour of neon green digital rain, a la The Matrix, that pulsed with each bass-laden moment. To me, this stirring yet nearly dull visual became a surprising parallel for a show that, while at times was truly innovative and entrancing, was ultimately a conventional display of repetition.
This gripe is not attributed to the thriving EDM sub-genre of trap, which capitalizes on the conventions of dub and hip-hop to create a repetitive yet versatile style. TroyBoi’s own catalogue of Arabic-influenced, uniquely produced tracks have been a major influence on the trajectory of the genre. Left is Right, the album he is touring in support of, is a testament to the versatility of trap.
In practice however, TroyBoi’s performance consisted of enlightened moments of fresh and innovative beats that slowly shifted into the doldrums. Each track would begin with a beat that felt truly new and innovative. These moments inspired awe, but eventually outstayed their welcome as they built for a drop that eventually felt disappointing and unearned. Accompanied by sometimes strange offbeat and off-key transitions, each track wavered unsteadily between groundbreaking and conforming to status quo. The audience began each song with waves of excitement and inspired dancing. As the track continued, the movement changed to shifting of weight and head-bobbing to the beat.
But when the beats themselves fell into repetition, the stage presence of TroyBoi and his guests made up for lost energy. His crew of talented dancers and hype-men took the stage with creative choreography, including aerial acrobatics as one performer dangled gracefully on lines hung from the ceiling. TroyBoi also welcomed instrumentalists to the stage for a portion of the show, who accompanied and supported the tracks with violins and stringed bass, adding a full-bodied and unique sound to the already frenetic beats.
Not to be out staged, TroyBoi’s own antics behind the deck were amusing as he sequenced his mix. Beyond the typical hype provoking gestures, interactions with his crew and the audience were peppered in throughout the show. At one point, TroyBoi stood on top of the deck to interact with a dancer trapezing through the air. The stage presence of TroyBoi and his supporting crew made up for the lost energy from the final half of each track.
Despite the criticisms, TroyBoi displayed a full competency in his craft. The show was still worth the cost of admission and a treat for EDM fans and newcomers alike. But as his silhouette fell against a background of green numbers and symbols falling across the screen like rain, I realized that TroyBoi’s act is only flirting with something great. His stage presence and base of fresh beats displayed his capability to defy expectation. Hindered only by his pattern to fall into repetition, if he can evolve, TroyBoi shows the possibility of becoming a truly brilliant stage act.