I arrived early to the venue on Sunday night, excited not only to see Kota the Friend live but also to experience my first show at Saint Andrew’s Hall. “Doors 7PM” held true, and my naïveté with the venue meant that I was slightly underdressed for the wait outside on Beaubien Blvd. It proved to be worth the wait, as I quickly warmed up inside as many dedicated fans trickled towards the historic stage onto the main floor. The size and simplicity of Saint Andrew’s lends itself to a perfect balance of known acts in a relatively intimate setting; I have had similar experiences with comparably sized clubs such as Minglewood Hall (Memphis, TN) and Middle East (Cambridge, MA). A rap playlist providing passive entertainment eventually led to an active entertainment with DJ AK mixing for about twenty minutes before Price took the stage.
Price put on a great show and overachieved as the opener. He bounded around the stage full of energy, engaging with the crowd. With one very engaging crowd member – a belligerently drunk yet positive Lions fan – Price showed great patience, acknowledging his energy without letting him become too big of a distraction. The rest of the crowd enjoyed the show less demonstrably, but still happily echoed his choruses when called upon. The new single “MANSA MUSA” was a highlight, as were “FLAWS” and “Selfish,” but I enjoyed every song in the set. In the end, Price’s patience paid off: the drunk Lions fan worked his way towards the stage and threw his Barry Sanders throwback jersey on stage as a gift! A fittingly eventful finale to an energetic and entertaining performance.
Kota took the stage and was well received by the zealous fans in the audience. Both he and Price noted throughout the show how much energy and love was in the crowd, and it certainly fueled great performances. Kota told a story that his last time performing in Detroit was 2018. For that show, he booked a Detroit rapper as his opener, and when their set was over, only two people in the crowd stayed for Kota’s show! He was motivated and very grateful to be back and receive all of the support. With nearly five more years of music, Kota effortlessly went all across his catalog to treat the audience to a blend of rap, R&B, and pop, from “Summerhouse” to “Fireplace” to “For Troubled Boys,” which he told the crowd he wrote for his kids after Nipsey Hustle’s murder. The last section of the show ratcheted up the energy, as he had the crowd call out places for us to “travel” to based on his song titles. It is a signature of Kota’s to have a place-based song title his albums, so the audience had many places to guess. We didn’t hit every eligible city, but Kota’s music took us to “Hollywood,” “Sedona,” “Long Beach,” and “Colorado” among others. To close the show out, Kota and AK selected fans from the audience to join him onstage for his last song. One woman invited on stage rapped all the words when Kota handed her the mic, and she represented many people all around me who knew all of the words and were rapping along with him throughout the entire show. Kota the Friend was very genuine in saying he wanted to create experiences for his fans, and this night Saint Andrew’s was a memorable experience on the “Flowers For My Friends” tour.