Story and Photos: Spencer Fleming
Omaha Pop/R&B artist Nugz celebrated the release of his brand-new album All Love Is War at the Reverb last night (1/28). With a plethora of guests and an enthusiastic crowd the room was bursting with positivity. Though the weather was treacherous, Omaha showed up and proved why we have one of the best music scenes around.
Presented by Omaha's nicest promoter Justin Strawstone and Nice Enough Entertainment, the show also featured Rysie, TKO, Forest, and Thuggy Yuxk. To top it all off DJ Madix was spinning records all night!
Before the party officially started DJ Madix got the vibes flowing with a mix of sad-boi hip-hop from artists like Lil Peep, Juice Wrld, and Wiz Khalifa. I was impressed by one of the Lil Peep songs. I really only learned about him after his passing so I never got too deep into his catalog. After hearing that, I'm sad that he's already gone. Don't do drugs kids!
Shortly after 8:00 Justin hopped up to host the evening and let us know about the oncoming acts. He left us with three instructions, "Treat people decent, tip your bartenders, and smoke your weed outside!" Shout out to Justin for always lifting others up and helping the Omaha music scene. The dude works tirelessly to give artists opportunities and bring cool shows to town.
The first act up was Thuggy Yuxk. With DJ Madix manning the 1s and 2s Thuggy dropped some heat and got the party kicked off right. After his first song he let out an excited "haaaaayaahh!" which the crowd mimed right back. For the second song he brought out his little sister to sing the chorus. Thuggy let us know it was her first time performing on stage and the crowd shouted "sing it girl!" and other words of encouragement. After the song Thuggy started to get visibly emotional and you could tell he was proud. It was such a special moment and I'm glad I was there to capture it. If you said you weren't crying a little bit, you're lying, ha! After the next song Thuggy brought up Race Coakley to trade verses about nefarious actions while living in the city. Let's hope these were tales of fantasy. The standout line for me was "Momma raised me different, when I get caught, I don't talk" (to paraphrase). It's always fun to escape daily life and enter the world of hip-hop storytelling. Before Thuggy's set Justin mentioned that every performer coming to the stage could be a headliner, and he wasn't lying. Thuggy killed his set and I could see him having a headline spot easily. Check out Thuggy's music HERE.
Next up was the phenomenal Forest. This guy rapped, sang, and shined all over the Reverb stage. His first song was a catchy pop tune with just a hint of reggae. The crowd response was insane, with a gang of dudes in the front practically screaming along with every word. After the second song I looked around and realized there were quite a few people in the room who knew the words. My sincerest apologies Omaha music scene for not knowing about Forest sooner, this guy is a true gem! As I watched his set I was blown away by how well he carried his pop vocals but also delivered some very quick rap flows, think early Matisyahu. Forest brought the positive vibes with his upbeat tunes, but the standout for me was "Spiritual War", which spoke to trying to be yourself and walk with integrity. Before the song Forest talked about how everyone is trying to sell you on something "Buy this and you can be that", "Just be your best self and as Justin said "Treat people decent". It's a positive message everyone can get behind. You can check out Forest's music and catch the positive vibes HERE.
After Forest was the rapper TKO. While the first two acts were upbeat and party-centric, I felt more introspective poet vibes from TKO. His insightful lyrics about political unrest and the struggles of being black in America were thought provoking and a nice change of pace. TKO had a lot of support from the crowd with two fans even coming in from Colorado to catch his set! Wild stuff. You can learn more about TKO HERE.
Rysie (pronounced Rizzie) was the direct support for the evening and he was a lot of fun. With crazy fast rap flows his songs had the room jumping! There were kids in the front row rapping along word for word, even shouting into the mic as Rysie blasted through his verses. He had so many words he even forgot a few of them, ha! Don't feel bad Rysie, I don't know how anyone can remember so many words in the first place. Rysie's lyrics covered a lot of ground, from Lion King to Cobra Kai, there were lots of little nuggets of pop culture (at least that I could pick up from the rapid-fire flows). Rysie had some hooks too! DJ Madix was cutting it up behind him with a bouncy song that featured a chorus "pop, pop, pop" and it was an instant sing along. If you like fast rapping sprinkled with positivity, check out Rysie, you can't go wrong. You can find Rysie's info HERE.
As the night was coming to a close it was time for the man of the hour, Nugz. With a stage full of crazy strobe lights, Nugz was ready for his shining moment. The crowd was pumped for the culmination of love and positivity that had been building all night. As DJ Madix dropped the beat Nugz rushed on stage in a fresh white shirt prominently displaying his new album All Love Is War. The crowd cheered in excitement as Nugz ripped through his first track, a steady pop ballad with a catchy chorus. Nugz addressed the crowd and thanked everyone for coming out on such a snowy evening. Shout out to Nugz and Justin for packing the Reverb out despite the bad weather. The room had dwindled just a bit since it was going on 10:30 but you could tell the folks who stayed had genuine love and that's what it's all about. Throughout the whole show I could feel a lot of care and planning went into this night.
As Nugz played through many of the songs from All Love Is War, he brought out guest after guest including TKO, the rapper Flames, and last but not least a guitarist named Jimmy. Jimmy already had cool points in my book for wearing a sweet Bowie/Labyrinth shirt, but he proved he could shred, taking Nugz' songs to the next level. Honestly, I think Nugz should get a live band. Jimmy took things up another notch with that sweet guitar ear candy!
After Nugz' set, the crowd wanted to keep the party going and started chanting "One more song!" Whether you're in an arena or a small club, I have to imagine, as an artist, hearing those words is the greatest feeling. Nugz hopped back up on stage and shouted "We did it!" Nugz delivered one more upbeat pop jam and had the room dancing in jubilation.
Congratulations to Nugz on his album release and for putting together an awesome show. Despite almost getting stuck on a snowy hill in Benson, having to park super far away and get blasted by frigid air on my walk to the venue, this was one for the books. A huge thanks to Nugz and Justin for having me out. Check out Nugz' new album All Love Is War on Spotify or find more info HERE.
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Nugz and Friends