NYC Flight Night personified one of Kota the Friend’s newest hits from recent album MEMO. It was good to be home. NYC Flight Night was more than just a homecoming. It was a celebration of friendship, family and identity. An example of what happens when adversity is met by love.
Festivities started days before Friday and Saturday night at Sony Hall. On Wednesday, July 20th, Kota hosted an intimate performance at Soho House – Meatpacking. Attendees included media, music industry executives, artists, family and friends. Kota the Friend performed three tracks from MEMO: Good to be Home II, Avery’s Interlude and fittingly, Soho House. The evening concluded with attendees receiving a special gift: the journal appearing on the MEMO album cover.
By the time Friday the 22nd rolled along, anticipation was palpable at Sony Hall. Friends, fans and family flocked to the theater, not just for Kota, but to support the top-shelf collection of performers who were set to share the stage on both nights.
Sha Summers was an ideal act to kick off the festivities. With his larger-than-life stage presence and ability to captivate an audience with wicked wordplay, Sha effectively set the tone for the festival as a whole. The Friday night crowd was early-arriving, and by the time Sha took the stage, the building was near-full, with fans instantly feeding off his infectious energy.
Limàta, who performed both days of the festival, showcased exactly what makes him a special performer. Backed by a live band, the Memo vocalist displayed his talents as a multifaceted artist. Balancing beautiful melodies with varied delivery, Samuel used every inch of the stage to connect with fans old and new.
After his second performance on Saturday, Limàta spoke to the significance of performing both nights. “It was awesome to be able to build on the first show – take a look at what worked and what could go better. So dope to be out here with all these crazy talented artists,” he shared.
An absolute crowd favorite on both nights, Ace Clark undoubtedly put his best foot forward at NYC Flight Night. Backed by a full band, including a brass section, Clark’s approachability, candor, and ability to naturally connect with the audience were palpable. His performance was energized further by the immense vocal talents of Brooklyn singer Naiika.
Spiritual, uplifting and congenial, Ace Clark was a must-see both nights at Sony Hall.
O’shay’s soulful sets brought a different kind of energy into the packed house on Friday and Saturday. Also band-backed, O’shay’s mellow, yet vibrant performances were tactfully arranged, and very well received by the Sony Hall audience. In an Instagram post, Hello O’shay shared his gratitude with fans and Kota the Friend for the opportunity to share his talents. Most importantly though, he touched on the camaraderie between the openers that made NYC Flight Night extra special. “One of the things I’m most proud of about this show is seeing how all the opening acts supported each other. We rooted for each other and found ways to help and encourage one another.”
The dynamic boom-bap duo held it down with style at Sony Hall. Conchez Yout and Dillmatic brought the kind of chemistry to the stage that NYC hasn’t seen since Starks and Ewing. Backed by the energetic spinning of group DJ, Patience, Friday and Saturday night saw crowds head nodding, vibing, and sparking up to the hypnotic, authentic sounds of ISO.
Lizzy’s energy and charisma were on full display, as the Brooklyn-born songstress offered her trademark pageantry. Backed by dancers Astrid Rosario and Fefe Blaze, Ashliegh’s sets both nights were visual masterpieces on top of displaying her talents as a performing artist. On top of that, Lizzy was everywhere, lending her advice, kindness and special energy to all artists on the lineup.
Castro, who traveled from Philadelphia to perform at Flight Night captivated the NYC audience with her tender vocals, and abilities as a guitarist. One of the most memorable moments on both nights came when she joined Kota the Friend on stage for Empty Cup. Brianna’s down-to-earth presence, and delicate vocals were dazzling, and a clear reminder to watch out for new music in 2022 from this one-of-a-kind talent.
Israel Autumns made the most of his set on Saturday, with a big time performance. Joined by the uber talented Darrion Winters, Autumn’s set was upbeat, full of energy, showcasing his talents as a songwriter, performer, and vocalist. Autumns did a phenomenal job of engaging the crowd, and setting the tone for Saturday night.
Another artist who put a huge focus on the aesthetic value of his time on stage was Ty Vybz. Backed by a slew of dancers, and demonstrating immense skills as a dancer himself, Vybz set was pure theater. Employing his very own choreographer for the set, Vybz thrived on the energy of the moment. “Wanted to have a party on stage while putting on a show. Thank you to @kotathefriend & @fltbys for allowing my team and myself the opportunity to do just that,” he shared in an Instagram post following the show.
With incredible stage presence, and a variety of hip-hop / R&B styles, Bungalow collect wowed a sold out crowd with their versatility and high energy. The group displayed their individual talents certainly, but also the kind of chemistry that makes a collective memorable. With big time vibes, and uncanny stage presence, Bungalow Collect added immensely to the fabric of an unforgettable Saturday Night.
Following a lineup of such talented performers could be daunting. Enduring a four hour wait to perform two nights in a row might seem intimidating. But surrounded by friends, family and day-one fans, Kota the Friend shone as only a star of his caliber could in his hometown. Chants for “Kota, Kota” began early in the evening both nights ringing out through the Sony Hall crowd.
And Kota obliged them – each set began with a fire mix from long-time DJ e madonna, sending the crowd into a frenzy. It was certainly worth the wait. On both Friday and Saturday, Kota’s sets began with a heavy dose of tracks from new album MEMO. The setlist followed the album chronologically from tracks 1-3, moving organically from 365 Days of Peace to Jumpman to UP.
Brianna Castro rejoined Kota on stage both nights for warm renditions of Empty Cup, before diving deeper into MEMO. A huge highlight came on Saturday Night, when Kota introduced his uncle to the crowd, who is the voice behind many of the interludes on MEMO and FOTO. As soon as the crowd heard him speak, they reacted with thunderous applause, appreciating the true family ties, and the storytelling of a man clearly close to Kota. Saturday’s set concluded with the up-tempo Philly Jawn, where Kota invited four fans on stage.
Each show concluded with a meet and greet, where VIP fans had a chance to meet with the hip-hop icon, and take photos. Every VIP fan received a fltbys NFT, which will provide them early access to release information, tour updates and more. In his hometown, Kota and friends put on a spectacle for the ages. Stay tuned as Today’s Hip-Hop will provide exclusive coverage for upcoming stops on the Flight Night festival circuit. Next up is Denver, which will take place Friday, Sept 9th at CERVANTES MASTERPIECE Ballroom. Tickets are available at flightnight.com.