"This is not your mama's classical music," Daniel Bernard Roumain said after a couple songs Friday night.
Indeed - but it's not exactly your mama's hip-hop, rock, jazz, blues or folk either.
Roumain - who goes by the stage name DBR - brought his own style of music to the Lied Center with his band, the Mission SQ Unit, and DJ Scientific.
The show can best be described as an experience, rather than a concert. Where else can you see violins with wah-wah pedals, or beat-boxing accompany a viola solo?
Indeed, as Roumain's comment may have alluded to, the music isn't for everyone. Some audience members left at intermission.
This wasn't exactly your typical Lied Series performance, and, frankly, the show probably have worked better at Liberty Hall, the Granada or the Bottleneck, catering to a younger crowd. Lower-than-usual attendance might have reflected that disconnect.
But - even though some left - there seems to be something universal about DBR's music. At the heart of most pieces is a funky beat that gets your toe tapping, if not your entire body dancing (which some felt moved to do at the show). And many of the pieces lay a gorgeous melody, often sounding something like a folk tune echoing among instruments, over that beat.
Granted, within the two-hour concert, some tunes were more easily listened to than others.
The bulk of the concert was "A Civil Rights Reader," a four-part work that pays homage to civil rights leaders Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Maya Angelou. While the program notes helped to explain the meaning behind the movements, the connections to the leaders is far from literal. That left the audience to use the often-repetitive strains to reflect on the leaders' lives, if they chose. Unfortunately, the fact the movements were played intermittently throughout the concert didn't help audience members decipher the true meaning behind them.
DBR and the Mission, as a crowd-pleasing band, seems to work best when they're playing a somewhat-melodious tune over the well-established beat by DJ Scientific. The Martin Luther King movement of the "Civil Rights Reader" reflected that, complete with soulful lyrics sung by Roumain.
Of course, those more conventional moments of DBR's music lead to a sound that fits in a genre, or a least a musical equation we're used to hearing.
But DBR isn't about that. He wants to challenge you.
At the least, audience members feel outside their musical comfort level. At most, they expand their horizons - if they're truly willing to give the music a chance.