Eriq Troi might be the most interesting musician in Akron, Ohio.
Yup, that’s how we’re going to start this off. I don’t mean interesting in a side-eye kind of way. It’s more of an endless intrigue into the mind of an artist.
Before the internet (for those of us that remember), you couldn’t find out how your favorite musicians sneezed unless you saw it in person. In Eriq’s case, you can search his website and watch videos on his Facebook page and I think you would still only be peering into about 12 percent of his world. Going to Mustard Seed, I knew that Eriq is a musician, artist, producer and podcaster, but what I didn’t know is that he would DJ. I would learn so much more about him on this Saturday night.
Mustard Seed always provides a snug environment, so the funk and soul tunes that Eriq kicked off his set with accentuated the air.
Eriq was alone on stage behind a small table playing jams from an iPad and adjusting sound on a small mixer. To the left of him was a guitar stand housing three guitars: one black and white Fender that he plays upside down like Hendrix, one Prince style ivory colored custom guitar with a leopard print strap and the other I never saw him use. Eriq was dressed in a Spanish gray italian cut suit with short sleeves (Yes, a short sleeved suit!) and he was wearing a pearl necklace. His reverse osmosis water (or maybe it was wine) was placed on a table stage right, far away from any equipment.
Performers that play the Mustard Seed are signing up to basically be background music to the NYC-style meetup that the dining room exudes. What I dug the most was that Eriq challenged that narrative in song selection and energy. For one, Eriq’s set was the loudest music I’ve heard in this room. Not in an annoying way. It made it feel like a show. He came out into the crowd multiple times and played guitar over looping house beats, two stepping through the aisle like the Jackson 5. He even sat at some of the tables joking with the crowd, all the while never missing a beat. When he dedicated “DJ Saved My Life” by Indeep to Roger Riddle, the set made a full transition from funk and soul to deep house.
Although I would’ve loved to see Eriq perform some of his originals like the Akro-prenuers theme song “House of Yarn,” we were treated to some Eriq Troi remixes throughout his set. His house remixes of Stevie Wonder’s “Sir Duke” and Michael Jackson’s “I Can’t Help It” were a few favorites. Eriq was playing whatever he wanted and we were there for it, from “There’s Some Hoes In The House” to Flying Lotus to Jill Scott. He even got the venue to turn the lights down and had all of us put our phone lights up and wave them back and forth like “Heal The World” was playing.
Eriq Troi is an immensely talented musician. He’s not a traditional DJ in mixing or scratching but the goal is to move the crowd and not lose the vibe you set. I can enjoy any artist live that can take a small crowd and make them party like nobody’s watching and that’s what Eriq Troi did. Oh, and name one musician in the history of forever that had a short sleeved suit.