Concert Review: Pouya - Saturday September 7th, 2019

Pouya | Photo chris zwaagdyk (courtesy of ambient light)

Pouya | Photo chris zwaagdyk (courtesy of ambient light)


By Saffy Wihoite

Artist: Pouya

Date: Saturday September 7th, 2019

Venue: The Powerstation

With the recent single release, Superman Is Dead (producer Mikey the Magician), Pouya, née Kevin Pouya, made his way to New Zealand for a one-off show at the Power Station, AucklandSuperman Is Dead has been readily accepted by fans, helping to solidify his ever-increasing status among rappers, and making him more than just, a Soundcloud rapper.

Pouya has been fairly busy; he released the album Five Five last year and produced a handful of successful mixtapes. His efforts have been noticed. His little black book of collaborators boasts names like the Ying Yang Twins, Fat Nick, $uicideboy$, and Ghostmane.

Entering the Powerstation felt like entering a long-patronised club--a familiar stomping ground. The alt-inspired hip hop splits the speakers and shakes the walls with the heavy bass, transporting you from Auckland to a warehouse rave or an abandoned-house party.

The energy is electric and the buzz of excited voices mixes with the bass rolling through you. Moving through the crowd is almost claustrophobic, but the energy in the room is very welcoming, which eases the edging concern. Everybody is in high spirits; liquored up and in their festival best. Boobie Lootaveli plays off of this energy. He bounces around stage, topless, as he alternates between spitting out his lyrics and telling the crowd how much he loves them. He and Pouya are long-term collaborators, their sets almost blend into each other, with Boobie returning to the stage for most of Pouya’s set as his hype man.

There is minimal downtime between Boobie and Pouya, it seems as if Boobie simply went backstage and told Pouya that it was his turn. Pouya and the DJ take the Powerstation stage, and Pouya takes in the crowd before speaking. “I only came here to say one fucking thing. OPEN UP THE PIT!!!” And they jump straight into the performance.

Pouya plays fan faves like FIVE FIVE, Mood Swing Misery, Umm, Void, Flordia Thang, and most of Runnin’ Thru the 7th With My Woadies. His rap is quintessential underground; straight-up house party vibes and the best example for that classic Soundcloud sound. They make perfect use of the Powerstation’s speakers. I’ve come to learn that the Powerstation’s speakers are bass-y as hell, yet clear, making you feel like you and everybody there exist only in this bubble of sound.

Throughout the gig, Pouya or Boobie would holler to open the pit. And open the pit is exactly what the crowd did. I kept moving around the venue, and being on the balcony level and looking down, the swirling pit was super cool. The pit wasn’t, however, an excuse to be a dick. Boobie tells the crowd sternly that, “We are a family, so if somebody falls, pick ‘em up!”

Pouya is a more modern type of rapper. His tracks are about things like catfishing and modern dating; with jump-out lines that sum up each situation poignantly and humorously. His bars and the backing track is stoner-crunk rap to its core, and the constant scent of weed reinforced the hazy vibe. Boobiegets a little too lit behind him and has to take a lie down on stage. The DJ takes advantage of him greening out and Snapchats it. Snapchat is a frequent player of the night--I caught sight of myself in so many cameras as people attempted to snap themselves and their friends at the gig.

There are a few stage runner attempts but they were swiftly dealt with, with Pouya not batting an eye. One of the stage runners used a slide ledge to hop down from the balcony onto the main floor and stage area, later, Pouya used that same ledge to stand above the crowd and rip a track. He looked ethereal with his long blue hair and POUYA merch. I am super keen on his merch, the jacket looked so cool with one sleeve checkered and the rest black.

The night starts to wind down. Pouya hits some of his most popular tracks and demands a Wall of Death pit get going. The crowd interaction is high, but this comfort doesn’t promise only kind words. Pouya stops during the intro of a track to scold a crowd member for throwing their sweaty shirt on stage, “Where I’m from you get beaten for that, so don’t do it because Boobie will have to beat you up and we will have to leave…” With the two being physical opposites, this cracked me up because I felt like it spoke to a long history between them.

They wrap up the final song, thank the crowd and leave. I kept my eye on the DJ to see if there would be an encore. For the first time in my life, I genuinely believed the sincerity of the encore. The DJ had rolled up all his power cords and was staring blankly off stage. I imagined that Pouya and Boobiewere stood just out of sight, trying to decide what song to play as an encore.

1000 Rounds was chosen, which happens to be my favourite song. The crowd went wild, putting all their energy into this final song. Usually, encores are a few songs long, so it was unusual that he only did one more. I feel like they didn’t expect anybody to want an encore so just didn’t plan for one. With all the attention Pouya is getting, and his reliability in delivering hot tracks, I’m sure he will get used to encore demands.