The Chrome Bull Listening Sessions

Changing Plans: When the Chrome Bull EP couldn’t be released on time, Duckwrth and his manager, Xtina Prince, opted to change the tour to become an exclusive listening session for his new material. (Photo by Alexander Wylie)

Duckwrth’s black glittering shoes slide effortlessly across the stage floor at New York City’s Webster Hall on Oct. 9. The crowd anxiously awaits his entrance to the stage, their enthusiasm never wavering for even a second throughout his entire set. Duckwrth opens with his 2016 single “I’m DEAD” ahead of the new songs from his upcoming EP, Chrome Bull, due out Oct. 21.
   Backstage, Duckwrth talks of how he learned choreography for this tour – something he hasn’t incorporated in his live show before. As he moonwalks and the rest of his band dances behind him, the hard work pays off.
   The audience screams as he plays the opening notes to “Ce Soir,” one of his newest releases. 

Chrome Bull incorporates dance elements, his drummer providing a steady drum and bass beat for one of the yet-to-be-released tracks. His charisma includes jokes onstage with the audience as he introduces another unreleased song, “11:30,” and his smooth moves appear effortless. 

The audience, while not-quite filling the floor of New York City’s Webster Hall, enthusiastically responds to his new material. The exclusive first-look is well-received by his fans, who deafeningly call for not one, but two encores. Even the balcony shakes during his performance, Chrome Bull infecting every soul in the crowd. 

Dance music is nothing new in Duckwrth’s music. Nowhere, released in 2015, includes the drum and bass-infused “I Got A Lazer.” The current wave of Duckwrth’s vision came with his March single “Power Power.” He followed that release in June with a Snakehips collaboration, “All Around The World.” “Ce Soir” marked his first official foray into Chrome Bull, the collaboration with Sydney Loren Bennett highlighting his French influences and solidly incorporating dance music into his upcoming project.

Onstage Swagger: Duckwrth’s performances pull influences from Michael Jackson’s skilled dance moves, his glittering shoes similar to the late icon’s (Photo by Alexander Wylie)

Chrome Bull expands on the genre-fluid sound Duckwrth is known for. R&B remains a dominant form in all his tracks, while some songs find him rapping more often than he sings. Duckwrth is far from the first to infuse the two, this summer saw a recent trend where both Drake and Beyoncé released dance albums. 

An epic drum solo features a costume change in the middle of Duckwrth’s performance. He pops back on stage dressed in a shirt emblazoned with the Chrome Bull logo. There, he takes a minute to introduce each member of his band: backup singer Just Liv, keyboardist Devin Smith, drummer Darryl Staves Jr. and bass player and keyboardist Budda Foster. 

Much like Duckwrth’s 2017 single “MICHUUL,” his performance proves his love for idol Michael Jackson, moonwalking as he sings about wanting to become “just like Mike” when he grows up. His shoes and gloves pay additional homage to the late artist, the “Chrome Bull Listening Sessions” carrying a certain MJ je ne sais quoi

Duckwrth recalled a story of returning back to in-person meetings following the pandemic lockdowns. The magnetic performer tells the tale of the one time he got anxiety, where he crouched down in the corner nervous about COVID. “Sometimes, as Tauruses, we can very much be like brick walls with little feet,” he says while stomping across the floor. “I thought I was impenetrable, but like everyone else I had anxiety. I was thinking back when I was 25, when I was 22, when I was 17.” The story serves as an intro to his song “Clueless.” 

During his second encore, Duckwrth performed a song he hasn’t yet learned all the lyrics for. Instead, he and his band danced on stage, grabbing the microphone during the chorus to sing along. His enthusiasm for performing on stage shines brightly, demonstrating that, despite all the obstacles he and his team faced to get there, everything was more than worth it.