REVIEW: Amine at Summerfest
Amine is an exciting, yet sometimes likely frustrating position as an artist. The young Portland rapper is still feeling the heat of 2017’s “Good For You”, led by the breakout single “Caroline”, yet also is still looking to distinguish his name to a larger audience. Fortunately, he had ample time and ability to endear himself to the Uline Warehouse on Thursday night. A loyal following had showed up early in the night to reserve bleachers, and by the time he made his way to the stage, the majority of the seated area was filled with fans. In many ways, the crowd was there for the taking.
While his set time was listed as 10:00 officially, the party started way earlier. Local openers Genesis Renji and Denny Lanez already had the crowd moving, and DJ sets from Main.Key and DJ Stretch kept the music pumping all the way up to show time. A 15 minute DJ set from Amine’s tour DJ got the crowd’s anticipation up, and then finally, a tease of “Caroline” with the track’s vocal intro caused its fair share of screams. Opting wisely not to do his hit song first, however, Amine instead went into early single, “Baba”, which kept the crowd equally as hyped. A set of official rules, including how to properly pronounce his name (uh-mee-nay), and to take minimal pictures to “be in the moment”. It was a fun touch and felt almost necessary for the crowd.
With a cumulative 17 songs out as an artist, it’s understood that most of the set would comprise of “Good For You” material. There were early experiments though, as Amine combined a verse Kanye West’s “Gold Digger” with TLC’s “No Scrubs” hook and guitar-laden instrumental. An appearance from Snoop Dogg’s “Drop It Like It’s Hot” instrumental would get treated with a remix later as well.
While the crowd was ready to turn up on command, much of the material on “Good For You” is a little more laid back, and it led for some shaky momentum throughout the set. For the more chilled out songs, Amine sat on a stool, center stage, and delivered his verses with an appreciative tone, appearing thankful for the crowd that came to see him. There were some bright spots of energy, though, including recent single “Campfire” and album cut “Spice Girl”. Just when things escalated, though, they’d go right back down with a more mellow cut. It felt planned however, creating a more refined turn-up atmosphere, if there is such a thing.
Due to the DJ set at the beginning of the show, as well as the lack of an encore, the main set from Amine fell on the short side. The night closed with a mellowed out rendition of “Caroline”, accented by thousands of background singers and lit purely by smartphones. While a cool moment, it wasn’t exactly what everyone had come to see. Nobody in the crowd seemed terribly distraught by the style choice, however, as they rapped right along to the final hook.
You would get the sense that Amine is used to being in the middle of a festival lineup, rather than a main attraction. There was even a tease of a false ending, as the DJ gave the crowd some music to walk out to, where in the middle of a festival that time would be used to transition into another act. It’s hard to fault him, though, seeing as though he’s only coming off of his first album, and many cases is positioned in the earlier part of the day. The bright spots were very bright, and the low points of the night weren’t necessarily mood-killers. There’s plenty of potential for Amine to be an even bigger sensation, and you got the glimpses of that on Thursday.