If some of the best music (or any art) is usually a product of its creator’s pain, rather than comfort (listen to any Ryan Adams album, if in doubt), then how about those on the receiving end? Would you have to ache to fully appreciate a phenomenal performance, even if seemingly a joyous one? The answer, of course, is no. At least when you’re at a packed Pitchfork aftershow, inhaling the grooves of Ric Wilson, Chicago’s “nouveau disco-inspired rap superstar, United Nations Geneva-visiting activist, and community goofball.” But a little loneliness may come in handy, especially when the performer proves to be as multi-layered as this one.
Wilson’s music is deeply rooted in the Baptist church tradition. The gospel influences are so evident you can easily relate to his “let’s build a sacred community right here, right now” attitude. Ric turns the venue into a church – yes, these were his exact words, well, almost – and as with any good preacher, you want to follow his lead. Wilson seems (and is) happy, almost ecstatic, but that’s when the unimaginable suddenly happens: the fervent rapper turns into a humble and even shy guy, as vulnerable as the most defenseless member of his audience. Moments like these are rare, at a rap how at least, and they do seem to have a healing effect, even if it sounds a bit voodooish.
So, if you ever feel like the world is crashing down on you, check out if Ric Wilson is playing somewhere close, or far. His show will make any trip worthwhile. And if it doesn’t, well, go see him regardless.