From Jim James to Hunter S. Thompson, Louisville has seen its share of local legends rise to the top of their game over the years. But, of all these hometown heroes, no one is shining more brightly, at least at this particular moment, than rapper Jack Harlow.
Of late, Harlow has demonstrated his star power — appearing on Saturday Night Live, partnering with KFC on disaster relief efforts and securing a nomination for a Grammy Award for his recent chart-topping collaboration with Lil Nas X.
Although the 23-year-old Atherton High School graduate is currently enjoying a fair amount of well-deserved international acclaim, last night, Harlow brought his big league bravado back to the Bluegrass State for the first of five consecutive sold-out homecoming shows unfolding this week at key music venues throughout the city (Louisville Palace, Z-bar, Headliners, Mercury Ballroom and Paristown Hall).
In spite of it being (ostensibly) the only seated venue in this special run of dates, from the onset, the concert at the Palace was a raucous affair that featured fellow Kentucky acts DJ Lil Jerry, DJ Fresh, Marzz and The Homies performing mini-sets to build anticipation for — and pay homage to — the main attraction. And when Harlow himself finally took over the stage in the 10 o’clock hour, the capacity crowd erupted on cue.
For the duration of his invigorating, yet intimate performance, Harlow treated family, friends and fans to a career-spanning sentimental journey that included many insights into the ways in which Louisville — and its inhabitants — shaped him as an artist.
Sure, sensational singles such as “What’s Poppin,” turned up in the setlist but so too did an assortment of deep tracks from Harlow’s early mixtapes. And each of Harlow’s handpicked songs and stories for the night were delivered amidst some carefully-curated stage props that included meticulous recreations of Highlands hotspots from Harlow’s past like Morris’ Deli and ear X-tacy.
Overall, for a concert from a major player in the industry, Harlow managed to make it feel more personal and heartfelt than usual, and the audience was clearly loving every minute of it.
Remarkably, as mentioned earlier, the Palace gig was only the beginning of a weeklong celebration. And if you weren’t able to snag a ticket to any of Harlow’s hometown holiday dates, he also announced last night that he’ll be back to headline the 2022 Forecastle Festival next spring. There’s no place like home, indeed.
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