Arts & Entertainment Editor
Not a lot of people go to the live shows at UC Santa Barbara’s (UCSB) Storke Plaza, making any individual’s choice to go an unavoidable referendum on whether their fellow students are right to pass them by. The promotion for Hook & CLIP was high, with posters everywhere across campus and the Associated Students Program Board (ASPB) even making a public Spotify playlist of the two performing artists to help attract more students to go. Despite this, the promotion was not a massive success, with the crowd peaking at 30 — maybe 40 — members.
The opening act from local rave artist DJ SHUTBOY was fantastic. In the past, opening DJs at most UCSB concerts has been boring, repetitive, and predictable. Though the crowd was of course much smaller than, say, Valentino Khan’s crowd for his set at Extravaganza, SHUTBOY did a far better job at keeping the crowd dialed in for the entirety of her 25-minute set. There was never a dull moment as intense whirs, beeps, and beat switches kept the crowd tranced in an alcohol-free environment (which is not a typical feat in the rave scene).
One would have a hard time guessing what CLIP’s stage presence would be like based on her recorded music alone. Her music is hard to define. There’s a good amount of aggressive rapping and soft, passionate singing with a lot of spaced-out, clear production and a bit of angry distortion.
Her biggest song, “Sad B!tch,” sums it up nicely: “I’m a sad bitch but I love bein’ bad.” This blend of styles made some sense for her entrance. The air horn samples’ energy contrasted with her shy demeanor, bear-eared hoodie, and space-age blue braids.
CLIP did not seem to be putting too much pressure on herself to go all out for the performance, which was fitting considering the audience size. She seemed focused on having fun and staying calm while singing her songs. She was clearly a bit nervous, even turning away from the audience a few points during her songs — early on in the set she even apologized for her shyness. Such open shyness is unusual in a concert but she was being herself, which was good in its own right. It is nice for a show to feel personal and real, like the person up there is less of an image and more of a… person.
That also made it more exciting when CLIP got extra into character on her more aggressive songs. That was when you could tell she was having fun. After her short performance came that of Hook, her fellow artist with generally lower numbers but higher energy music. Dressed in a killer all-black outfit and staring in intense anticipation of her set, hopes were high for Hook. It made sense that the louder, more aggressive and fast-paced rapper would take the stage.
When Hook first got on stage, she looked angry, like a boxer who found out she was being cheated on just before a match. Even after walking all the way across the stage to her microphone, she did not look at the crowd but kept an intense stare directed at no one; she got right into the music without saying a word. The energy was not the only thing high and intense; Hook’s apparent anxiety levels were higher and came off more awkwardly than Clip’s did. When she pumped her fists in the air during choruses, the motions were so stiff that it came off more like a dictator trying to get people to demonstrate their allegiance than a performer trying to get the crowd on their vibe.
When she stared into the eyes of a crowd member, it felt like a dark laser passing through their soul. But despite the often-prevalent look of extreme concentration on her face, at times it looked like she did not remember that she was on a stage performing. Fortunately for her, they were playing her songs with the vocals rather than the backing track alone, so when she stopped rapping in order to dance or just vibe, the music kept going.
Hook’s show was chaotic and messy, but incredibly fun. Watching Hook pick up her jacket from the chair it was resting on, hang it on an empty mic stand, and then knock the mic stand over and continue as if nothing happened was an unforgettable experience. Though Hook did appear nervous and stiff, the energy was so tense that every single moment felt precious and special. This type of crazy atmosphere is exactly what one should hope for from a concert at a small venue for up-and-coming artists.