Miguel. Boulder Theater. 10.11.16
As the lights slowly dimmed around the venue, the Boulder Theater became Miguel’s bedroom. A panel of screens reflected all the stars in the cosmos, while a voice called for sacrifice to the void, because in the end, “we’re all gonna die young.” Laughing in the face of mortality, as only the young can do, the mostly college-aged crowd held each other tight as they rode the microquakes of bass with the finesse of seasoned strippers.
The first words out of Miguel’s mouth were “She said, I don’t want a model,” and just the sound of his voice prompted ecstatic screams from the throng of females in the front rows. “I want you to win my heart,” the song continued, but it wasn’t love Miguel was selling from that stage. Despite various interludes about self-respect and everyone’s unique place in the universe, a Miguel show is about one thing and one thing only.
Pulsating radio waves brought the screens to life as they matched the breathing pattern of the man of the hour. Sporting white denim jeans, t-shirt, and leather jacket with feathers like wings, the 30-year-old singer/songwriter showed off his guitar skills while a surreal array of psychedelic patterns swirled around the stage. A new track, “I Told You So”, was augmented with a dance troupe of silhouettes, while “The Thrill” provided a bit of transparency to the impeccable band kept behind the curtain. It wasn’t until after taking us back to 2010 with “Sure Thing” that Miguel directly addressed the crowd in front of him for the first time.
“I wanna see how crazy and wild it can get! Put your middle fingers up and say Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck Donald Trump! Fuck Donald Trump!”
The residents of Boulder, Colorado had no problem complying with that demand, and the chant led into the all-too-appropriate “DEAL” — with all its talk of money and power and bitches. The politics continued with the lead up to “leaves”. After introducing himself (as if anyone didn’t know who he was), Miguel addressed the race problems we are facing in America today. Coming from a Hispanic father and black mother, the Los Angeles native used the changing of the seasons as a metaphor to the upcoming election.
“Fall represents change. ..all the beautiful auburn leaves. Where I’m from, there is summer and then you wake up to winter, but right now is the indicator. There are so many indications that there must be a change. It’s in our hands. Not just the future of this country, but the future of human beings.”
“leaves” served as a segue of sorts. The bittersweet breakup ballad was transformed into a call for action, before leading into the heart of the show. The jacket came off, the shirt came off, and although it was replaced with a sleeveless version of the ones sold at the merch booth, the slightest glimpse of his famous abbs had the girls clamoring for more. “gfg” followed, and with it returned the dancing silhouettes, but this time they brought hell fire with them. Miguel’s shadow loomed huge against the theater walls as his inner rock star came out to play. Working the front rows with total abandon, while reaching out to touch all the “good fucking girl(s)“, he set off a chain reaction that guaranteed a sleepless night for many of the young couples in the crowd.
“waves” followed with nightclub and underwater scenes laced with tie-dye patterns that coincidentally looked a lot like vaginas. A stripped down, almost acoustic version of “a beautiful exit” acted as a smoke-break/hydration interlude, before things got heavy again with “coffee”. As the stars reappeared, the crowd once again came alive to sing along with “drugs, sex, and Polaroids,” before Miguel instructed them to ‘pick a star in the sky, we can both say goodbye all night.” The highlight from Wildheart could have been the perfect closer, but Miguel isn’t one to leave his fans wanting more. Instead, he brought it back to Kaleidoscope Dream to close the set with “Arch & Point” and “Adorn”; proving his transition from rock to R&B star is as seamless as anything Prince and D’Angelo have done before him.
The encore consisted of a single song, “How Many Drinks?” It was the end of the night and the time for subtly was over. Winning hearts and minds was no the longer goal. If that hadn’t been accomplished throughout the past hour or so, it was too late to dwell on it. Now was the time to be blunt. “How many drinks would it take you to leave with me? Yeah you look good, and I got money.” Looking around the venue, there were very few single people on the prowl, but Miguel’s words were resonating with those who came (and were planning on leaving) together.
“I ain’t judgin’ if you do decide that you might be fuckin’ tonight.”
The college-aged couples who were holding each other tight earlier in the night had progressed to the next level. Foreplay was on full display as Miguel left things on a positive note. “You are the only you that has ever been or will ever be. Dig that. Don’t play yourself. Be yourself.” It was a fine message, but at that point in the set he had lost his control over the crowd. People don’t go to a Miguel show in search of inner balance — they go to get uplifted in other ways. Having already succeeded at that task, he was now a third wheel at his own party. It was time for Miguel’s guests to exit his bedroom and retire to their own.
I Told You So
a beautiful exit
Arch & Point
How Many Drinks?