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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

The Skins, Elysia Crampton and Rabit to grace Gardner this weekend

Photo contributed
Photo contributed

Halley Freger

Grinnell Concerts is bringing us another music-packed weekend with the last two shows before spring break. On Friday, Brooklyn-based band The Skins will share their eclectic sound. On Saturday, Elysia Crampton and Rabit will switch things up with their experimental, electronic music. Both shows are at 9 p.m. in Gardner Lounge.

Last year The Skins were featured by Rolling Stone on a list of “10 New Artists You Need to Know.” And yet, the group is somewhat difficult to get to know. You can’t pin them down solely as rock or hip-hop, and even describing them as a combination of the genres seems too limited. The young band, consisting of five musicians all in their late teens to early 20s, continually defies expectations.

The Skins have come a long way since their days as a teen rock band at the New York School of Rock. Their first in-studio music video was recorded by Wreckroom Records, the project of “Entourage” actor Adrian Grenier, and received thousands of views in its first week on YouTube. Now, they’ve released their debut EP “Still Sleep” on Rick Ruben’s Republic Records. Their sound is more polished and pop-infused, but still full of interesting juxtapositions.

Their song “Runaway” off of “Still Sleep” opens with gospel-influenced choral vocals, but then shifts to include 90s R&B record scratches and 80s pop synths. On the EP single “Bury Me,” vocalist Bayli Mckeithan’s haunting voice belts over muted, fuzzed instrumentals. The song features the undeniably charming rapper, singer and songwriter D.R.A.M., who released his debut album last year to critical acclaim.

Their sound is perhaps best exemplified on the EP’s closing track “Go Off,” which goes back and forth between bold rapped vocals and a top 40s sing-along chorus, all over an edgy dance pop beat.

On the other hand, Elysia Crampton’s music refuses commercialized sounds as she builds futuristic landscapes to explore complex histories and cultures. Her expansive stylistic influences, which range from Southern hip hop to Latin metal, culminate in experimental electronic music that refuses traditional structure. Deconstructed synths and samples mix together to sonically address larger ideas, such as those surrounding Latinx and queer identities. And, somehow, Crampton accomplishes this all while still creating exhilarating, danceable beats.

Her second album “Elysia Crampton Presents: Demon City” was released last year and was written in the style of a musical epic poem inspired by the indigenous Aymaran revolutionary Bartolina Sisa. The album features numerous collaborators, including Houston producer Rabit, who will be performing with Crampton on Saturday.

Head to Gardner this Friday and Saturday for two very different shows from boundary breaking artists.

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