In the relatively short time tour manager Rachêl Barocio has been traveling with artists on the road, she’s found herself in the middle of many memorable moments, including some unforgettable D Smoke shows.
“He plays the piano and goes from starting with a classical intro into some tough rap… The contrast in what he performs sometimes is amazing to see. I’ve seen fans look shocked,” Barocio told REVOLT.
In this installment of “Tour Tales,” Barocio describes how she kept a D Smoke show from going off the rails, being a nurturing figure to Baby Rose, and the inner workings of Duckwrth’s “Chrome Bull Tour.” Read the exclusive conversation below.
What was the first hip hop tour you worked on?
I would say being road manager on D Smoke’s “War & Wonders Tour” in 2022. The first R&B artist I went on tour with was Baby Rose for her “To Myself Tour” in 2020.
What was it like putting together D Smoke’s show?
He had a lot of other elements to his tour where, like, we were doing press also while on the road. With D Smoke, we did a meet and greet. So, after our soundcheck, he would usually get ready for a little bit and then do the meet and greet in a separate room. We all know D Smoke from the Netflix show. Most of his fans kept up with the show, which is cool to watch. Many of his fans would bring him gifts, and their interaction was always either someone hitting on him or telling him his work really made them grow. Or, it really inspired them in their artistry.
One time we were at The Fillmore Silver Springs, and there was this fan who brought this piece of artwork that was a huge canvas. She had to carry it in with someone else, but he had to get it shipped back home. It was this big canvas with his face painted on it. It was the most beautiful piece of artwork.
D Smoke’s shows are organic and not built on colossal theatrics. What made those sets great?
Smoke is such a multitalented artist. He plays the piano and goes from starting with a classical intro into some tough rap. Also, the contrast in what he performs sometimes is amazing to see. I’ve seen fans look shocked, like, “How are you ripping it up on the keys, and then suddenly you get on a mic over here and start rapping?” (laughs).
What’s his personality like offstage?
He is a very goofy character. But, on the other hand, he’s very sweet and kind to work with. He really cares about his art, which shows in how he operates.
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You linked up with Baby Rose on her tour before the pandemic started. That must’ve been a whirlwind time with everything being canceled.
She was the last tour I did right before everything shut down. We were supposed to do a West Coast run. We had just finished the East Coast leg of the tour. Then, they did Europe and were going to do the West Coast and SXSW. I was asked to join them on the West Coast after they returned from Europe. Then, everything got canceled, and they returned to the U.S. immediately.
For the short period you were with Baby Rose, how did you see her develop as a live performer?
She’s always been a very confident person onstage. Her stage presence and her voice are very commanding without trying to. Recently, I’ve noticed this newfound confidence and assuredness of who she is in her voice and as an artist. It’s really cool that I got to be a part of seeing that from somewhat of the beginning stages.
You are a very nurturing person. How did that show up on Rose’s tour? How did you make her feel at home?
It was little things like going out to get coffee or waking up a little bit early and asking her, “Hey, do you want to go get breakfast?” Also, one night we were going to go [out], she said, “I don’t have anything to wear.” I told her I had these extra pieces, and she liked one and kept it. I told her she could have it. She asked where did you find this? And I told her I thrifted it. She told me, “I think I want to go thrifting sometime.” So, in the next city or something, we went to a thrift store and went thrifting. I would do things with her that I’d typically do with my friends. That shows a bit of care.
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What was your favorite show from that tour?
I vividly remember the D.C. one. That’s partially because her family was there, and I saw a couple of friends I hadn’t seen in years. She packed a small room under this bookstore type of shop, [Songbyrd Music House].
Tours are unpredictable, and the best professionals must be ready for anything to happen. What were some fires you put out to keep the show going?
My whole body clenched up a little while thinking about it (laughs). For D Smoke’s LA show, I had the sprinter parked at my house because I live in a pretty safe area. On the day of the show, I was supposed to drive the sprinter to the venue with all the gear, merch, props, and everything. Unfortunately, I lost the keys two hours before we were supposed to be loading for the show. All of my roommates were helping me find my keys. At some point, I needed to call Jasmine [Collier] and let her know what was happening. She told me we might have to get a locksmith. My roommate happened to have AAA, and they were going to come and break into the sprinter. We were going to take everything out and put it into an Uber and my other roommate’s car and bring it over to the venue. She told D, and he was cool as long as we had a solution. That’s when my roommate asked me, “What about checking this jacket?” Sure enough, the keys were in that jacket (laughs).
Duckwrth’s “Chrome Bull Tour” was your most recent. He’s a fascinating character with a unique musical and visual style. How did that translate into his live show?
He’s incredibly involved. He cares about every detail and gives his all to his work. It’s very noticeable when you see him perform live. Because of that, his artistic style translates well to the stage. He’s a rapper at heart and a songwriter. He creates music, and his live music has a wide range. He does R&B, he does house, he does dance, and then he also does punk and rock songs. I remember how the crowd at his Brussels show was ready to rage from the beginning of Duck’s set. Hamburg was lit too. He played at a venue called Uebel und Gefährlich, which translates into “evil and dangerous.” The history behind the venue is that the building used to be a former Nazi bunker and a building where Hitler used to give speeches. So, the energy in that building felt very weird, eerie, and dark.
The crowd was so beautiful. But, given the history of this building, [those Nazis] would’ve never thought, 70 years later, there would be a group of Black people in a green room getting ready to do a sold-out show for a crowd that’s predominantly Black and brown people. So the power of reclaiming that is tight. I teared up.
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What do you have coming up in 2023?
I honestly want to get more rest (laughs). I want to prioritize more time for rest intentionally. I was very grateful I was booked and busy, but I was gone for 80 percent of the year, and it finally caught up with me toward the end of . I felt very burnt out. But I would also like to do more arena shows. I want to see how I can grow in that kind of environment. I discovered I want to do lighting. I got to do it for one of our shows because we didn’t have [a lighting director], and I discovered it was a lot of fun. I had a blast with it. Duck told me he was obsessed with the lights because they were so good. Everyone loved the lights. I would love to do more of that this year.