The White Panda, Hoodie Allen, G.Riot Bring Heat To Frozen NYC’s Highline Ballroom

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It was only one day after the blizzard that chilled the Northeast, blanketing some boroughs of New York with upwards of 1 foot. But the kids arrived—and kids they were—at the Highline Ballroom for the 9pm doors, with opening performances by G.Riot, followed by hometown favorite (he’s from Long Island) Hoodie Allen, and then the “maestros of mash-up” The White Panda.

The Highline Ballroom is a cool venue to see any act; exposed beams, two bars, table service, and a balcony. As the show last night sold out; it readied itself to hold 700 excited, sweaty and dancing bodies packed tightly together.

G.Riot is from Rhode Island, but you wouldn’t know it. He possessed the swagger of one of New York’s own, pacing the stage and grabbing hands of dancing fans. He also partook of some witty banter with his hype-man on stage, explaining the meaning of his songs and their origins. He built a connection with the audience, many of whom were hearing his music for the first time. Despite being unsigned, he’s accomplished a great deal. He has released two albums, one mixtape, a music video and he’s opened for Wale, Akrobatik, Curren$y, and Dipset‘s Juelz Santana. He has also been seen performing on stage at a Big Sean concert. He was a well-chosen and suitable, first act to a night that would progressively more rowdy and intense.

When Hoodie Allen bounded onstage, you would have thought he was the main event. He greeting familiar faces and he shouted out some of the boroughs, getting roars of approval. He tore through some of his most popular tunes, including the Marina and the Diamonds sampled “I Am Not a Robot,” and performed a freestyle that had a chorus that repeated his name three times. But it was then that something occurred that became very common for the rest of the evening: the flooding of the stage by women, young and old. If you’ve never been to the Highline, then you don’t know, but security is relatively lax, and there doesn’t seem to be many of them. There is also no guardrail separating the crowd from the stage So security, at first in awe, then increasingly annoyed, bounded to the stage after them. While none of the acts at any point were threatened or even concerned, it was clear the venue wasn’t sure how to handle the situation. As the night wore on, security’s patience wore thin, but the crowd pressed on, and Hoodie didn’t lose a step. He announced his arrival home, and we welcomed him with open arms.

Finally, the crowd was warmed up and ready to go, and The White Panda gave every ounce of themselves. Stuck on different delayed flights trying to get into New York, they arrived one hour before showtime, but you wouldn’t have been able to tell. Calm and collected, the duo created mash-ups that blended hip-hop, pop, rap and alternative rock; seamlessly fusing song after song without end or even a break. DJ Griffi and Procrast took turns on a microphone, directing the crowd to release even more energy from their sweaty pores and throbbing veins. For around an hour, the crowd was bound in their love for all things musical; Top 40 and classic R&B alike. I hope that the audience left encouraged and eager to learn new songs but I’m pretty sure they all left to download The White Panda’s second album, Rematch, if they had not before they arrived.