Blackbird Blackbird Paints A Tangerine Sky

Blackbird Blackbird switched between old and new tunes at the Asheville Music Hall.
Photo by Makeda Sandford - Layout & Design Editor.

The night started on a fairly average note. While some people were attending pre-Halloween parties, others were roaming about, and some had trickled into the Asheville Music Hall to drink beer and catch a show.

Julion Roberts, drummer for local band Pussy Liquor, was one of the people hanging around outside. 

"I saw a flier near Barley's. I'm interested in the music and I like to support local bands," Roberts said. "Also, it is important to give a good representation of Asheville." 

The crowd of smoke that circulates outside Asheville Music Hall was kept alive by more people outside than inside listening to Asheville-based DJ Adam Bombthreats. It was a semi-appropriate set to listen to upon venturing into the dark, dark cave that is the Asheville Music Hall.

On the stage, Bombthreats, clad in a loose, white T-shirt with his hair loosely tucked into a ball cap, was really into his set, which, in some parts, was reminiscent of music that Scandals plays at midnight on Saturdays.

Swirls of neon pink and blue laser lights streamed in tandem with the music, which at various points transferred from slick techno reminiscent of the kind played by '90s era Underworld to loud, abrasive, throbbing rap, a sadly inevitable choice of any modern musician wanting to win the favor of millennials.

It was at this point, when trap became a heavier facet of his set, that more audience members, he majority of whom were nondescript, started to trickle in in more pronounced numbers. Most were fresh-faced 20-somethings in beanies while bobbing side to side in a manner that befits the usual hipster.

Two people clad in Dia de los Muertos-style costumes entered at one point in Bombthreats' incredibly long set while the inevitable Asheville "hippie" was the only one on the dance floor, her long hair whipping in unison with the red, orange and yellow ombre ribbons adorning her this evening.

The floor had been vibrating with the heavy pulses of the other concert happening in the One Step, aka Grateful Dead-head central. Surprisingly though, upon descending into the slightly more well-lit cave that is the One Stop, it became apparent that this was where the party was at. Rap group Xero God were taking the stage to much fanfare, and pretty soon, it was very difficult to even manipulate from one end of the room to the other without fearing bumping into a happy, beer-wielding audience member.

Finally, after the pushing and sliding through the dense Xero God adoration, the act of the night strapped on his guitar and took the Asheville Music Hall stage. He was short, shy and packed immense volume into the half-idle, half-vibing room quickly filling up with neon smoke.

He goes by Blackbird Blackbird, and as he introduced himself after a taste of his aesthetic, it was clear the San Francisco native Mikey Maramag was the wake up the crowd needed.

"I didn't personally choose to play in Asheville," Maramag said. "It was decided through a booking agent. I played here a couple times before and I like the vibe here."

Photo by Makeda Sandford.
The vibe liked him back, and as he shoulder-swayed to the beat of his dreamy pop infused with synthy trap, it was evident Maramag has a knack for drawing in a bystander as the crowd grew dense. 

The guitar and vocals were subtle, with long intros of slow vibration and pulsating outros. Blackbird Blackbird became a concept after every pulling track, spinning back each time into a promising calm.

Periodically, Maramag's voice bashfully interjected between dreams, saying "this is an old one," or "here's something new for you all," as if he, although conducting the journey, was enjoying the moment too much to say a lot. 

Much like the visual designs and cover art for Blackbird, Blackbird, the music was awash in pastels, even in its most trap-induced moments. It filled the hall with a much-needed freshness amidst the stinginess of non-draft beer and the heat making its way up the staircase from One Stop. Blackbird Blackbird takes a passenger to the tangerine sky, and softly brings them down as the sun sets. 

This article, which was co-written with Makeda Sandford, was originally published in The Blue Banner