‘Tis the season for spreading Christmas cheer to those a little less fortunate, and Travis Mills--best known by his stage name T. Mills--in particular was looking to do his part for his hometown community of Riverside, CA at his Dec. 21 show at the Constellation Room in Orange County, CA. The show marked the third year Mills has thrown his annual toy drive benefitting the Toys 4 Tots Foundation and battered women and children’s shelters of Riverside. “My mom and dad always told me that no matter what you do, if you have a platform to give back, you should do that,” Mills said. With that mindset, the set up for the charity drive was fairly simple: Donate a toy then meet and greet with the rapper himself in a VIP setting. Simple, yet effective, as the room was still nearly full when security had cleared out those without a pass to stay after the show.
Of course, on top of his charity work, it needs to be said that the California-native put on one hell of a show. With a setlist interspersed with old and new songs alike, the standout moment came when he pulled a fan up on stage to perform “Coldest Winter” alongside him. It made what was already a very intimate performance seem even more so.
The best part about this T. Mills show or any T. Mills show, other than his musicianship and performance, can be found in the little nuances. The moments where he raps to the girl sitting atop her boyfriend’s shoulders, where he closes his eyes and mouths along to the words because the audience is doing the singing and when he just smiles up to the sky when they do take over for him. It’s those brief seconds that one can truly see just how passionate he is, and that’s what makes going to his shows such a treat. There are many artists in the industry that are obviously jaded and seem to have lost the fire they had that drove them to pursue music in the first place. It’s a sincere hope of this reviewer’s that Mills never lose that fire, because it is what sets his live show apart from the rest.
One of the most amazing things about the Young Favorites Toy Drive--especially after seeing the amount of donations--is that Mills has set up this drive himself. “I’m literally, the day after the show, taking all these toys and delivering them myself,” he said. “What I’d really love is for an organization to team up with, but we just haven’t had that opportunity yet.”
Words by Victoria Patneaude
Photos by RJ Garcia
*Disclaimer: The words expressed in photo blog reviews do not necessarily reflect the opinions of Music Connection Magazine.