By Leon Sommer-Simpson
Junior Matthew Smith, Adv. 805, is well recognized in the hallways of Northside through his rap alias, Swami. He has built a reputation for himself as a talented lyricist and spitter of bars, working with his Chicago rap group Exit The Premises (ETP). On Friday May 19, Swami found himself in the men’s bathroom near the art-wing of the building, performing for upwards of 30 enthused NCP students. Bathroom concerts, once an integral part of Northside’s DNA, lived and died with Mr. Chris Santiago, Fine Arts Department, who left after the 2014-15 school year. Besides being a student favorite, Santiago organized and promoted the bathroom concerts. However, after his departure the bathroom concerts ceased. Concerts in Santiago’s last year included two father-son rockstar duos — Jeff Tweedy and Northside alum Spencer Tweedy class of 2014 and Jon Langford and James Langford, class of 2015.
This spring, Conor Green, Adv. 808, Jacob Yosowitz, Adv. 803, and Ben Morris, Adv. 807 brought the famed bathroom concerts back from hiatus through their charity organization Concerts Against Cancer. The organization was inspired by Morris’s continued and successful fight against cancer. Yosowitz stated that Ben was “lucky enough to be able to get treatment, but we know others don’t always have that opportunity, so we we want to help those people out and aid in funding research.” He continued to say “we’re all about bringing people together to listen to bands and artists while simultaneously fighting for a cause.” They did just that. While bathroom concerts of the past were always free, this entry fee was two dollars. However, most of the concert-goers had no gripes about the cost because of the charitable nature of the show.
As Swami began to sing the chorus of his hit song “Wake Up,” students climbed up on the stall dividers for a better view, and whipped out their phones in order to capture the sensation on Snapchat. For many juniors and seniors, the urine fragrant, grey-tiled, claustrophobia-inducing venue was charmingly reminiscent of earlier Friday afternoon shows two years prior. Swami switched between performing his own songs and crowd-requested freestyles which coaxed the audience into a series of oohs, aahs, and “yuhs.” Swami commented that “At first the energy was low because no one knew what to expect, so I had to keep the vibe strong and before you knew it everybody was on board. I didn’t think you could fit that many people into a bathroom and expect them to get excited about something, but they were. The concert was crazy.”
After a couple of freestyles and songs that Swami had planned to play, the crowd demanded more. No-one wanted to return to the halls and head home, and thus the mic was passed around to a few aspiring rappers in the crowd, and found a home with Sergio Rodriguez, Adv. 905, also known by his rap name Yung Serg. Yung Serg spat slowly but methodically to the beat of “D Rose” by Florida rapper Lil Pump. Concertgoer Dylan Callahan, Adv. 702 said that “The Swami concert was one of my favorite Northside events this year. The energy generated by Swami and Yung Serg was a great kickoff to the bathroom concert season.”