Bohan Phoenix Premieres new EP with show at Elsewhere
by Joseph Baldovin
The night of Bohan Phoenix's last performance stateside was a proper send off to his trip back to his hometown of Chengdu. Performed at the lo-fi hotspot of Elsewhere with a cast of musical companions opening and supporting his set that was packed back to the soundboard of diehards he'd managed to quickly collect in his 3 year career.
With a launchpad series of videos out with art-rap label 88rising and a new EP that dropped just last week, the energy that Bohan Phoenix has brought with his distinctly Chinese flair and confrontational topic choice of heritage and discrimination combines with each release for a highly-stylized message of overseas life in the modern era, of being different in a new land. The new EP, OVERSEAS, mashes the topic of Chinese immigrant with funked-out, modern styling of hip hop and rap, blending a more mature tongue-in-cheek attack with select elements of smooth jazz work and traditional Chinese instrument sources.
Bohan is young in regards to the age of his career, with OVERSEAS just barely commemorating the 3rd year of his music; and his show history is shorter than that by far with Elsewhere being one of the first proper stages to perform on. Mixed with setting up a week of interviews and press events to discuss his new EP and a final performance hours before heading back to China with this show and that sort of stress can make anyone nervous and mess up. So his honesty and calm demeanor are surprising as he admit his soundcheck is also his rehearsal of the new work, and the fluidity he appeared on stage was something borne of confidence.
The performance live matched the strength of the finished album beat for beat; every hit and verb backed up by Jachary, producer of Bohan's "3 Days in Chegdu", who pushed every chorus harder and filled out the live sound. And if there was any thought that the crowd wasn't all in on loving the sound, "JALA" coming on and the whole mob of people running through every word let you know otherwise. Yelling every punch and kick in "Party No More" as he rapid fired through his 7 song EP, roaming the stage like a Tiger itching to pounce, rocking the edges, right up to the crowd between each verse.
There are posers and wannabes that can dress and talk and act within some range of criteria to make things work and then there's these intensely unique sounds and identities wrapped around these sounds that bring a force of movement and energy to everything they do that it sweeps you up for the ride. For a departure show, this was a proper send-off for Bohan Phoenix, and while he is off to China till a date unknown, we know the pull of NY will pull him back sooner than later.