On Friday, Dec. 6, Brooklyn’s Caffeine Underground hosted an open mic night for local or starting artists. The space was more reminiscent of a refurbished living room, which allowed for a welcoming and comforting environment.
While the artists who performed were strong in delivering their style of music and appealing to the audience, there was an overwhelming sense of homogeneity in their music. However, Humble Narcissist, also known as Grayson Christensen, offered a much more different sound, distinguishing him from the rest of the group.
In having a more unique sound, Humble Narcissist was able to demand and hold audience attention in a way the other performers had not.
He began his set with his song “Almond Milk,” which seemed to be written for a love interest. This song fluctuates in its sound, which is consistent with the mood shifts throughout. The beginning follows a moderate pace until he offers a slower piece in the middle, which works to beg the audience to feel a sudden switch within. In this moment of the song, he sings, “Counting out a five in coins just to meet you / ripping all my hair out just trying to see you.” Both the lyrics and music here seamlessly bind together to effectively move listeners.
Between performances, he made sure to either give a brief anecdote as context to a song or offer some information about himself. He assured the audience that this was his first performance, and used humor at times to establish a sort of common ground with the listeners.
Perhaps during those talking points, he was allowing himself to gauge the atmosphere of the room and play accordingly. This may speak to the very beginning of his performance, where he seemed hesitant and therefore quiet. However, I found that as he continued to break for moments of interaction, he grew more comfortable. Although his music was objectively different from the others’, it gave nuance to sounds we may already be familiar with, which appeared to captivate the audience.
His music seems to be largely influenced by Slaughter Beach, Dog, Modern Baseball and Cavetown — all of whom produce dramatically different genres of music. Yet, Humble Narcissist is able to generate a cohesive mix of these sounds and offer something original, which is what I admire most.
His debut album, “You Are Art,” is planned to be released next week. His music is available on Spotify, Apple Music and Bandcamp.