The El Rey Theater is one of my favorite venues! It’s small, very intimate, and I love the elegant decor that hangs from the ceiling. It’s standing room only, unless one has VIP and can sit up on the balcony. The only worrisome thing about the venue is the parking, but like any place in Hollywood you find a place where ever you can.
I found myself at El Rey in February for the DRAM Tour solely because Ari Lennox of Dreamville was an opener. The homie Jimmy and I had been waiting patiently for Ari to either go on her own tour, or hop on to someone else’s. She had already done a run with Jeremih on the East Coast, so we were patiently waiting for her to hit the West.
Jimmy and I finally met up to make our way to the venue. The line to get in was long, so (per usual) I was worried I wasn’t going to have a good view of Ari.
But you can say I was “front row” because the crowd wasn’t big yet as everyone was getting drinks or buying merchandise. As we began a conversation to kill time, we noticed other Dreamville fans within the crowd around us. It was pretty dope to see that other fans were there like us happy to see Ari.
After the first few openers, Ari hit the stage! It was amazing to hear her live because she sounds exactly the way she does from her EP. Her stage presence radiates from her voice, to her dance moves as she makes the stage hers. She truly enjoys every moment and it radiates through her smile. She sounded phenomenal!
I have to admit for a moment during her show I was hit with a huge weight of embarrassment as I realized that I indeed pronounced the name of her EP wrong a few months ago on my podcast episode. A mistake I will always gladly admit to. The shame I felt passed as Cozz’s verse for “Backseat” came up and he joined her on stage.
After her performance Jimmy and I didn’t know what to do with ourselves… That is until he checked Lute’s (of Dreamville) Instagram story and saw that he was near FOH (front of house). Since we solely showed up to see Ari, we gave up our spots near the front of the stage to find our favorite Dreamville artists.
Ever since I had purchased my Dreamville jersey, I would always have it with me in case of running into my favorites while I was in the LA area. So sure enough, Jimmy and I were prepared.
We then noticed Ron Gilmore Jr. standing a few feet from us. We did our best to not draw too much attention so they wouldn’t be bothered, but nobody seemed to notice what we were up to. Which is a good thing because we didn’t want to scare anyone away.
I asked Ron if he’d sign my jersey and he said, “Me? Are you sure?”
I said, “Yes of course, and if I can get a picture too please?””
He said, “Sure. Let me see.. I’ll sign here. I’ll put a crown too cause I’m the best.”
He made me laugh and it helped kill the nervousness that I had when talking to him.
The next Dreamville member we bumped into was Omen and Elite. Elite signed my jersey with no fuss, but Omen broke my heart and healed it all in a matter of 5 seconds. I asked him if he’d sign my jersey, to which he replied yes. Then I asked for a photo while he was signing it, to which he replied with a quick, “No.”
Then looked up with a smile to say, “I’m kidding. Of course.”
I told him, “Oh my gosh. You broke my heart geesus.” He just laughed.
We then ran into Ib, Cozz, and Bas who signed no problem. All we needed was Ari. (And if we were lucky enough, Cole.)
Since we didn’t really have an interest in the rest of the show, we waiting near FOH for Ari to come out and mingle within the crowd. She arrived and we watched as fans approached her before we had the chance too.
Ari has such a beautiful personality. (We’re not creeps I swear! But,) We stood back and watched as she took the time to stop and talk to each fan that stopped her. She took photos, signed merchandise with a smile. She didn’t sign things and shove people along, she did all she could to make each fan happy. (Everyone I’ve ever met within Dreamville does the same btw.)
When she had a moment alone, we figured we’d introduce ourselves before she leaves.
Ari was so happy to meet us, and was so sincere and thankful! I told her whenever she does a show in LA I’ll be there! She signed our jerseys and happily took photos with us. We left her alone after that and proceeded to watch the rest of the show with pretty much the whole Dreamville team. It was pretty dope.
Not only did Ari kill her performance, but I accomplished something that I never thought I’d be able to do. My Dreamville jersey was signed by all but J. Cole, (and I’m confident that will happen soon enough.) and I created awesome memories with a great friend. Can’t wait to see Ari again soon!