Show Review

Corbin & his live show defies description

“How the hell does this voice come out of a 19 year old kid?”

Corbin center stage at Ace of Spades -- photo Liv Styler

Corbin center stage at Ace of Spades — photo Liv Styler

I spent the latter part of my evening Wednesday saying the exact same thing to one of my besties as we sat in the press pit of Corbin’s (FKA as Spooky Black) Ace of Spades show. For almost an hour I stood there puzzled, perplexed, even a little bewildered. You know that look your puppy gives you when you do something that just throws them the fuck off? Yeah. That was me.

“Seriously… how the HELL is this voice coming out of a 19 year old kid? I mean.. are we sure he is 19? He looks 12… which when you think about it makes even less sense but…. seriously? That’s him??”

Eventually Sean got sick of me

“Liv if you ask me that question again, I swear I might have to murder you.”
All jokes and threats of violence from Sean aside, this show is something that I am still trying to wrap my around and its been two whole days.

A little back story for the folks playing along at home: Corbin, FKA Spooky Black started to make waves late in 2013 with an online presence on Soundcloud and Youtube, but it was his 2014 release of the song ‘Without You’ that turned him into a viral sensation, with the song and video racking over a million hits nearly overnight. Accolades began to pour in hailing the song as an “instant classic” and proclaiming “Spooky Black would take over the R&B game!” Whether they (Noisey) are right or not remains to be seen, but that is mostly because this dude IS ONLY 19, so he has a little more time before he reaches peak takeover age.

Photo - Liv Styler

Corbin FKA Spooky Black — Ace of Spades

The thing is… I don’t even know if this kid is R&B. I don’t know if I can even define his music to you without combining random musical references together that seemingly make no sense. What would you say if I told you Kurt Cobain and Paul Robeson had a weird lovechild? That is what Corbin is to me — his voice tone is this sort of deep, dark, rolling wave of sadness and melancholia but the angst permeating each note is overpowering, and harkens back to the grunge era of the 90s where artists half sang/half screamed their way into our emotional safespace. Somehow Corbin simultaneously croons and wails his way into your psyche. Corbin feels — he feels a lot — and he wants you to feel it to.

Let’s be real though, just because you feel something does not mean that it can translate well to an audience, especially live. That’s a mixture of talent, skill and raw energy that you cannot create or fabricate through a social media persona.

There is a nervous, almost awkward energy in his live show. A young kid from Minnesota who probably weighs a buck-sixty at most, with piercing blue eyes and blond peach fuzz on his face, he looks like every kinda nerdy dude who listened to Slayer in high school. You almost would not have known that he was the star of the show when he hit the stage, in short combat boots, jean shorts, and a tshirt that had some creepy ass clowns on the front. There weren’t a bunch of fancy lights or fog machines, no smoke screens and special effects that took the stage along side him. No DJ. No hypemen or crew. Just Corbin, at one point a guitarist who came and went pretty darn quickly, and a projector screen playing images of the Minnesota backwoods he grew up in. This show was the essence of barebones.

Which is exactly how it should have been. Corbin doesn’t need anything to distract you from the main focus of his show — his muthafkn voice. That warbling, quavering voice the floats between crooning, crying, and screaming — and accomplishes all of that within the same breath. That was and is the star of the Corbin live experience.

Oh also — don’t be like me — be smart and buy merch before the show kicks off. ALLLLLLLLLL of it was sold out before I got a chance to cop and Ice Boy shirt. I am slightweight bitter!

There were a ton of highlights to this show — but I think the best part for me? As I left, I accidentally bumped into a dude while I was waiting for Sean to buy merch (that was how I found out there was none left). We started talking about the show, and what his thoughts were, and the response he gave me was all I needed.

“My name is Corbin. I came to see Corbin. I’m rocking a Corbin sweatshirt. I cannot think of anywhere else I would want to be tonight! This shit is amazing!!”

Yup. His name was Corbin. I checked his ID — just like I want to do with the Corbin that was on stage. Because I still do not believe that voice comes out of someone who is only 19.

photo Liv Styler

Corbin watching Corbin rocking Corbin

If you have not seen this dude live, if you have not gotten the chance to check him out, if you have not listened to his new album ‘Mourn — then I implore you to get on it. Corbin and his camp (Allan Kingdom, Bobby Raps and producer Psymun) are coming on that next wave of come ups. Ride along.

— Olivia Monahan
Resident Stoner
IG — @thelivstyler



Olivia Monahan

September 15th, 2017

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