It’s generally standing room only at the 1200 capacity Sonar Club-one of Baltimore’s tucked away hidden gems on E. Saratoga Street that most recently hosted hip hop icon Rakim-but it was definitely the case when Kia Calloway, Ryan Leslie, and Jazmine Sullivan–on her first headlining tour–hit the stage. Even quicksand couldn’t have pulled folks down to sit in a chair.Calloway came on first, flanked by two dancers with inestimable energy-who at one point did a medley of stripper dances for a couple of male patrons. They sang covers of Jill Scott’s, “He Loves Me,” and Keri Hilson’s, “Knock You Down,” before finishing off a short set with her own single, the fiery, “Back Seat.”But things didn’t start getting funky (literally it was a tightly squeezed crowd and, well, its summertime) until the musical wunderkind Ryan Leslie’s slight frame, dressed in a blue oxford shirt and jeans and sunglasses, frolicked onstage ready for some high energy. Leslie is well known by now for his 1600 perfect scored SAT’s, his 15-year-old entrance to Harvard (he entered after his sophomore year in high school) and 19-year-old graduation, and his all night music studio binges. This work ethic isn’t lost on his stage show as he hoots, slams down on the keyboards, swings the microphone stand and lets it drop, revs up his band members, dances, shimmies, rocks it out, does James Brown spins as fast as the Tazmanian devil, and a few slides, all while-you guessed it-singing! He sings “Something Like That,” leading into “Quicksand” and “You’re Fly,” and then into his hit “How It Supposed to Be,” from his self-titled debut.He slows it down to talk to the crowd about his lost love, a woman that laid an ultimatum on the workaholic–you-have-to-choose-your music or me. He pauses and tells the crowd-”Some people are there for a reason, others just for a season.” Now he’s looking for a nice girl, someone educated, independent-”I think I’ll call her my…Diamond Girl.” The crowd goes crazy, he spins, and throws the mic stand down and delves into the hit before slowing it down with his Prince-esque “Valentine.”  He launches into his hit, “Addiction,” and changes it up with Bootsy Collin’s “I’d Rather Be With You,” showing off his skills on the keyboard as he sings. Saying Leslie is a tough act to follow for Jazmine is like noting that Kanye West has an oversized ego.Then a montage of pictures of Jazmine begin to show on the big screen beside the stage and Jazmine’s  gravelly alto, edgy, and filled with emotion fills the crowd along with a bass beat. She tells them her name and her bio before the live Jazmine comes out onstage in the dark, her band is dressed in black and she’s dressed in a purple and black futuristic jacket with a black catsuit and diamond studded sunglasses, and she goes right into the Alanis Morissette on steroids anthem and gospel-inflected, “Bust Your Windows.” She launches into a medley of her songs from her debut album, Fearless, with the crowd singing along with her. In between sets a reverential hush falls over the crowd and then she asks the men if they know 100 percent that they can put it down before she goes into, “One Night Stand,” Then the violin heavy “Lions and Tigers and Bears,” the reggae infused Missy Elliott produced “Need U Bad,” and Ace Hood’s “Champion.”For a first stage show, its vintage soul mixed with creative and fearless songwriting, emotion, and an earthy rapport with her fans. But it’s no Prince show, and for a bigger venue she could work on something that will dazzle her fans to move with her Deadhead style. Still, when she ends the show with that cutie pie sweet smile giving props to her band mates and saying, “I’m sure you know my name by now, it’s Jazmine Sullivan,” you can’t help but to want to see it all over again.

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