Walking into an already enormous crowd during NAN’s sound check at North Avenue’s Summer Solstice music festival pretty much forewarned me for the silliness that was going to ensue. If you haven’t heard of the Milwaukee-based music group New Age Narcissism (otherwise known as NAN) either: a) you have been living under a rock, or b) you just haven’t had a chance to experience, and become addicted to, their ferociously energetic live shows.
Hopefully you were able to catch NAN’s headlining show at Summer Solstice on the East stage which began with an opening performance from Milwaukee hip-hop artist Klassik, and popped off around 9:30pm. NAN piano beat producer Q the Sun walked out on stage to amp up the sea of people readily waiting for the show, leading the crowd in the chant, “Everybody say NAN-NA-NA-NA-NAN.”
WebsterX, who has become a household entity of Milwaukee, ignited the set with his new song “Doomsday.” Everybody at the show reverberated in a poetic unison to his lyrics, “We’re all doomed, we’re all doomed/ But It’s not doomsday.” It was the perfect song to get the crowd stoked for the rest of the show. Siren was up next, her mystic voice being unshackled in two songs, including her new single “Queen Medusa,” which sells catchy bone-chilling lyrics and her potent soul buzzing vocal pitches.
Following was Lex Allen and Lorde Fred33. Lex’s charm and confidence always stirs up the stage and his song “Puppy Love” was surely one that you could move to. His new song, “Taps for Likes,” had everybody in the crowd holding up their cellphones to light up North Ave into some sort of narcissistic astral collective. When Lorde Fred33 came out though, things got real. His mantras in the songs “Bango” and “Amen” literally drove the crowd into frenzy. He took off his shirt and owned the stage, from arching into a backward back bend, to grinding the air, to pumping his chest like some sort of tribal warrior—he was animated. It is always fire to watch.
A NAN show would never be complete without WebsterX stage-diving after drenching the first few rows of audience members with his water bottle. It’s this trustworthy ambitiousness WebsterX brings to the table that makes him an artist that is loved. What he puts out is reciprocated. Ending the set with “Desperate Youth,” WebsterX tells his bandmates to step back and let him do this not on his own, but with the audience. Demanding the audience's undivided attention, he states “Nah, I don’t need your help on this one. This one’s for you guys. You guys only.” Everybody was jumping. It felt transcendental to be a part of it.
There is this ever-prominent feeling NAN performances create for their fans. It's poetic, unified, and dope. They’re celebrating that creativity is awesome when shared, and rooting their whole fan base on. NAN is truly a group of fine young visionaries. They are a family, but they feel like your family — one that encourages you to chase that dream you’ve only been thinking about.
Photos By: Maegan Eli and Julian Cedron