A long-awaited homecoming for Tish Hyman, the singer’s performance at the Highline Ballroom struck a fine balance between heartfelt and carefree.
On a Wednesday night in late July, the line outside New York City’s Highline Ballroom extended well beyond the main entrance and down the block. The night’s performance featured artists from all across the states, with Elhae hailing from Atlanta and the headliner, BJ The Chicago Kid, stemming from – you guessed it – Chicago. For the opening act, however, this night meant more than a debut or live performance; it also heralded Tish Hyman’s return to an old stomping ground.
A Bronx native, Hyman left New York for Los Angeles to pursue a career in music – and more, with Hyman making her acting debut in Spike Lee’s recent movie, Chi-Raq – but she’s always certain to remind the crowd that New York City is her home.
“I moved to LA to pursue my dreams,” Hyman began, “When I made this album, I was thinking of New York…I’m in my city, I feel strong as fuck right now.”
Hyman held this energy for her entire performance, balancing between stories and melodies narrating her struggles and success. Ranging from soulful ballads such as “All That I Can Do” and “Subway Art” to lighter tracks like “Dreams” and “4 Letter Word,” Hyman guided the audience through her journey, sharing mini-anecdotes for the songs, playing characters she’s met along the way.
“I love doing shows because it’s like we’re in my living room…and I just start spinnin’ for you,” Hyman laughed following “Subway Art,” one of her most popular and emotional tracks depicting the trials and beauty of life in the big city.
The comfort and confidence Hyman displayed on stage supported this relaxed, familiar mood. Jumping fluidly from snappy rap to moving vocals, with backing tracks featuring hints of Reggae, Trap and Spanish guitar, Hyman put forward nothing but ease and versatility in her performance; in the midst of her set, she regularly cut tracks short, openly stating,
“You know, this really is like a living room situation, because I don’t even transition.”
And it’s this choppy, honest nature that makes Tish Hyman such an appealing and entertaining artist to watch. Completely in control of her own live performance, she caught the crowd’s attention and energy from her opening beats and by the end of the night, everyone jived and grooved, captivated by the artist. During “4 Letter Word,” this was especially true; if Hyman has a hit, then this is it. Throughout her live performance, Hyman’s energy poured off-stage and the crowd shared a few moments of euphoria with the artist, singing the chorus back to her well after the backing track was silenced.
At the close of her time on stage, Hyman made an appeal to the crowd, calling for activism.
“I’m not talking black and white, although Black Lives Matter,” she said, and at this point the crowd erupted in an affirmative roar, “but we’ve got to push for more intelligent music, we’ve got to support more intelligent music, because we are fucking good people.”
Following this profound moment, and characteristic of the entirety of Hyman’s performance, she paused and broke into a light laugh. Dancing across the stage, she waved out to the crowd, before exiting to mingle among fans. Her final words?
“Thank you for coming to my living room!”
Photo Credit: Yamarie Mayol