Dawn Richard - Roxy Theatre - 3/26/13
The Roxy Theatre
Sure, the line was small outside the Roxy, but they were a faithful few. Once inside they got what they came for, as Dawn Richard (formerly of Danity Kane and Diddy - Dirty Money) took her loyal fans on a musical journey from grimy hip-hop to fist pumping EDM.
A New Orleans native who won P.Diddy's esteem on his reality show, Making The Band, she survived Danity Kane's demise by joining Diddy Dirty Money for their Last Train To Paris album in 2010. But it wasn't until leaving Bad Boy Records that she really found her footing.
With just a drummer and a keyboard player, Richard finally emerged to on "Black Lipstick" but her appearance was far more intriguing than the song. She looked somewhere between a Las Vegas showgirl and a sexy Oscar trophy, wearing a gold sequined leotard with a headdress, letting her full ponytail hang down. Her gold platform heels were quite high. "This fucking costume is cutting my throat off!!" she said, before unleashing a round of body rolls to percolating rhythms.
The show climaxed early with a house-infused "Faith" from her 2012 Armor On EP. The song's hook, "You never lost faith in me" featured Richard's angst-filled vocals, and the room was electrified once it reached its Afro-Caribbean breakdown. The only thing missing were glowsticks and strobe lights.
On "Bombs" started, Richard had the crowd captivated. Her seductive gyrations moved to an internal rhythm that was both aggressive and feminine. Surrounded by two female dancers striking militant poses in black body suits, she was a beast.
Richard later dismissed her dancers and brought a microphone stand to the stage. She seemed very appreciative of the support that made her January debut album, Goldenheart, No. 1 on iTunes' R&B chart in its opening week.
Richard's sincerity came through in her most spiritually-themed compositions, "Heaven" and "Scripture," which she performed in a slower, quiet storm tempo that allowed her raspy voice to channel the ethos of a jazz lounge singer. Though these songs were deeply personal to Richard -- "excuse me while I worship," she said -- they were also communal. "You're my favorite!!" and "Love you Dawn!" yelled the crowd.
"I'm losing my voice, y'all gotta help me," she said near the end of the show. During "Automatic," she gave her microphone to an fan who sounded professional. During "Riot" she jumped in the center of a boisterous crowd, which nearly became a mosh pit. All you could see was a gold sequined arm swaying to the beat as her fans jumped in unison.
Personal bias: Danity Kane has always been "those people and Dawn" to me. I got through a painful breakup with an imaginary crush in my head to her 2011 A Tell Tale Heart mixtape.
The Crowd: "There was Aubrey, Dawn and who? There was a Latina one right?" -- a crowd member struggling to remember every person in Danity Kane.
Random Notebook Dump: A man looking like the lost member of N'Sync sang along to Richard's music with an incredible amount of passion. His thin Craig David beard made it seem like it was Y2K all over again.
Set list below: