by Mike Scarfo
Marble Ave Entertainment and Spicket River Brewery have recently gained quite a bit traction as a partnered duo putting on local shows in the heart of Lawrence, MA. Last month, Andre X and the rest of the Marble Ave & NoMasFree team arguably composed their best event yet, featuring a wide-ranging lineup of different sounds, genres, and performance styles that made for an enticing experience on the open outdoor patio at Spicket River Brewery.
Zaafir Returns to the Stage for the First Time Since Covid
Malden, MA hip-hop artist Zaafir is one of the most underrated talents in the state as a pure performer. I often reflect on the very first time I saw Zaafir perform back in 2019 at an event hosted by Syn.di.cate at Icon in Boston. His ability to not only utilize the entire stage, but the entire venue, was impressive on its own, as I recall him taking matters into his own hands and performing within the middle of the crowd, audibly claiming the stage was too small. I was enamored most by the aura he possessed, as the crowd engaged with him, hanging on his every syllable, following each calculated movement he made. I remember thinking he was born to perform, and was hardly surprised finding out shortly after he had opened for national and international acts ranging from Playboi Carti, Teni the Entertainer, & YONAS, to name a few.
Flash forward nearly three years, and you would think Zaafir’s hiatus from performing would require some dusting off of the cobwebs. And yet, it was almost as if he hadn’t missed a beat, cracking jokes with the audience about how he always keeps a USB on his keys, then smoothly transitioning into his set. He kicked things off with unreleased banger “Break Bread”, showcasing smooth rhymes and strong vocal delivery. Following “Break Bread”, he performed one of his favorite tracks “Born a Legend”, where he exercised his performing strengths as he found his way into the crowd of tables, rapping with full bravado and confidence.
Zaafir found his stride with newer singles “Alley Oop” and “Sayless”, the latter in particular played well with the crowd as numerous people turned to their phones to add it to their respective music libraries on Spotify and Apple Music. Zaafir truly reminded everyone the type of detailed and charismatic performer he is, making him a must-see artist on stage in Massachusetts.
Watch the full video recap of Zaafir's performance above
Faybee Showcases Brand New Music
Up-and-coming singer/songwriter Faybee is a MA-based artist I would be on the lookout for the rest of the calendar year. Her vocal talent is undeniable, and she is vastly improving as a performer as well. I had seen her previously at l.ucas and Timi O’s headlining show back in March at The Rockwell in Somerville, but this time I got the chance to see a full set of hers, most of which was brand new, unreleased music, a majority of it produced by l.ucas himself.
Her latest release “She a Star” was amongst the five-song set; it exemplifies her vocal range, as the “she a star, she go hard” refrain in the hook captures impressive high-notes and falsettos. The song is representative of the essence Faybee possesses vocally as well as sonically, with its glistening keys contrasted with stark hi-hats and synths.
Faybee also introduced unreleased singles “So Different” and “To the Brim”, however the standout cuts from the night were certainly “Wasted” and “Pat Down”. “Wasted”, which features Timi O, is a song that’s vivacious and lively, while “Pat Down” is a smoother, sexier track with an incredibly catchy hook, that exhibits a more outgoing and flirtatious side of Faybee, proving her ability to branch out from the lighter pop music she’s accustomed to creating. Overall, Faybee is showing growth in multiple areas of artistry, from performing, to her vocal and stylistic range, I’m really enamored to see her continue on this trajectory she’s paving for herself.
On a Scale of 1-10, I$aac Groove's Energy is an 11
I$aac Groove, the Bad Guy, the Villain. He’s a monster as a performing artist. Watching I$aac perform is a cathartic journey destined to exasperate even the most faint-hearted music fan. Whether it’s the joker-like painted face, the constant movement throughout the venue, the head-bobbing and borderline screamo vocal delivery, standing on Adirondack chairs (yes, it most certainly broke), his act is one of a kind. Hell, he even took the performance up to the fire escape, and expressively rapped a few songs from there. It was one of the wildest sets I’ve seen locally, and the only one I’ve ever seen that reached this level of sheer madness was Denzel Curry.
Now, don’t mince my words, I am definitely not comparing him to the South Florida hip-hop superstar. But I$aac's dark-spirited performance is insanely memorable, and I am stunned by his approach. It’s completely proprietary to him; it's an act I don’t think many could pull off, but it works, all while finding a way to feel authentic in the process. And sure, the image might seem like a bit of a charade at first, but by the time he’s done “on stage”, you can’t help but sense this is just who I$aac is, and it hardly comes off as a gimmick.
I$aac performs often throughout the Northeast MA area (and even in parts of NH and Maine) so make sure you’re following him on Instagram to find out where he’s playing next. I promise you won’t regret it.
Meeq Sparks the Crowd with Hype & Passion
Meeq ended the night with a special performance that sent the crowd into a frenzy. The excitement amongst everyone was incredibly palpable, and it was apparent how important this was for Meeq to be able to perform in front of so many friends, family, and fans. The crowd surged to the stage right when his set started, and lasted until his final song of the evening; the heightened energy from the young budding Lawrence-native artist hyped every audience member with ferocious trap bangers.
His performance is a significant grassroots story for the city of Lawrence, which has produced numerous high-level artists in the past. There’s a sense that since he still is so young, with the right backing, Meeq could be one of the next to make a name for himself out of Lawrence. The sheer joy and motivation he puts into his music are key components in getting him to that next stage of his journey, and I’m excited to see where he goes from here.
Be sure to stream all of these incredible artists' music, and be on the lookout for any upcoming shows and new releases!