Let me start by saying that on Wednesday, Nov. 16, a tiny woman in massive heels brought a packed venue to its knees. As one of my English pals so articulately put it, “She makes that guitar her bitch.”
St. Vincent brought out the largest crowd that I have seen at the Brudenell Social Club (although I haven’t been to that many), and rightly so. She has come off of one of her most successful and critically acclaimed releases, Strange Mercy. With anticipations high, the tension was palpable as the stage crew tuned the guitars, adjusted the lights, and kicked the fog machines into full gear, after a wait that seemed like an eternity.
When she did come out, the tiny Annie Clark in her high heels showed that big surprises come in small packages. Playing mostly off of the excellent Strange Mercy, the powerful sound of St. Vincent demonstrated the best of the recent album. Despite the amazingly forceful performance of many of her excellent new tracks, Clark came across as incredibly modest throughout those brief moments in between songs where she gave the audience a brief glimpse into everything from her music video for “Cruel” to her recent cover of The Pop Group’s “She Is Beyond Good and Evil.”
It wasn’t all constrained to the new work, as Clark and company provided some of the greatest moments performing older hits, including an excellent cover of “She Is Beyond Good and Evil.” It was St. Vincent’s performance of “Marrow” that they were able to give a much more intense life to, which cannot be given complete justice when listened to recorded. It was the encore that stole the show with an amazing rendition of “Your Lips Are Red.” It featured Clark jumping into the audience at the most intense moments of the track, and within seconds doing a complete turnaround and calming down the song to what was the end of one of the greatest performances I have seen in recent memory.
And on that night Clark certainly made that guitar her bitch.
Scarcely before the ringing in my ears from Bombadil’s album release party could fade, I found myself back at Cat’s Cradle for something worlds away, both sonically and geographically.
Sophie Hunger was absolutely charming. The Sunday night crowd started out pretty far back from the stage, slowly trickling in and milling about, but by the end of her set she had coaxed more than a few to the front to better catch her heartfelt lyrics and genuine enthusiasm. Vocally she sounds a bit like Feist. They both have that soft, crooning quality in their voices, but Hunger proved she was no stranger to belting out a verse or two where necessary. She switched between singing in English, German and French fluidly and frequently, so I probably only caught a fraction of the lyrics, but I like to think the meaning still came through.
It’s hard to pin her sound down to a specific genre. She herself switched between guitar and piano throughout the set and was accompanied by Michael Flury (trombonist/box player/chest percussionist) and Christian Prader (flautist/guitarist/pianist). Some songs were folk in the best tradition of the genre, while others sounded of heavy jazz influences mixed in with who knows what else. Whatever the influences, it was all a pleasure to listen to. Her endearing solo acoustic “Sophie Hunger Blues” was the song that won me over, and I could tell I wasn’t the only one. The personal narrative, catchy melody and raw emotion she put into that song had the audience smiling and laughing in a big way.
From Swiss-born, European bred folk/jazz fusion we somehow made the transition to acoustic Saharan desert blues from former African rebels. For the uninitiated, Tiniariwen is a group from northern Mali made up of Touareg rebels. They received military training in Libya and fought for the rights of oppressed nomadic peoples in the Touareg rebellion. Sung in a Berber language called Tamashek, their songs carry the revolutionary message of the cause they fought for.
If you’re not intrigued yet, then I really just don’t know what to tell you.
Before they even came on stage there were enough guitars set up to comfortably field all of Broken Social Scene, plus a few percussion instruments whose origins I could only guess at. The band was all robes and cloth when they did come out, certainly looking the part of desert bluesmen. A few greetings in what sounded like French (why didn’t I take French?) and they were off. You might not think that dusty, Middle Eastern folk and blues would be that danceable, but it definitely is. The percussionist (playing either a hand drum or a large half-sphere gourd of some sort hit with his palms and two lighters) and bassist laid down a simple but irresistible groove that the rest of the band built on. To their credit, they kept the crowd fully engaged throughout the night. I’m pretty sure I even spotted whatever the slow moving, mid-to-late-thirties equivalent of a mosh pit would be, but folks were packed too tight for me to venture out and investigate further.
Tinariwen’s latest release, Tassili, has more of an acoustic sound to it, a departure from their previous albums which made extensive use of the electric guitar. The set drew heavily form the new album, but they broke out the ax for several numbers, including one of my absolute favorites, “Amassakoul ‘n’ Ténéré.”
Tinariwen has been gaining a fair amount of international attention recently. There’s even a track on Tassili featuring Tunde Adebimpe and Kyp Malone of TV On The Radio fame. If you haven’t heard about them yet, you probably will soon. If you haven’t listened to them yet, go ahead and do yourself a favor. I love local music but there’s nothing like some African desert blues to broaden one’s musical horizons.
I have discovered that in my later years (well, I’m only 21, but still) I have become more lazy and less inclined to ever leave Raleigh to do anything. Especially to do something that requires money, like go to a concert.
Add Bombadil to the picture and it changes things completely.
On Saturday, Nov. 12, Bombadil graced Cat’s Cradle with their album release party for All That The Rain Promises, the long awaited new album from this local band that is comprised of four very talented men: Bryan Rahija, Stuart Robinson, Daniel Michalak, and James Phillips. The show opened with local favorites Future Kings of Nowhere and Jay Kutchma and the Five Fifths, two groups that don’t play too much around the Triangle right now.
Seeing the lineup, I knew I had to get out of Raleigh for a night. So I filled up my gas tank, picked up some friends, and made my way to Carrboro after feasting on some delicious pre-Bombadil steak tacos cooked for us by Laser Beard, who also served as our photographer that night. We hoped to get to the Cradle early enough to get a rose, but arrived just a little too late. Instead we ate some cookies and milk (thanks Bombadil!) and moved toward the stage as Future Kings of Nowhere set up and tuned their instruments.
Future Kings of Nowhere was full of energy and a lot of fun. They played a selection which included new songs and started and ended with the crowd favorites “Let’s Be Pirates” and “10 Simple Murders.” I was really excited to see Jay Kutchma and the Five Fifths next. Red Collar always put on high energy shows and I was curious to see how Jay Kutchma would be without the rest of Red Collar. The excitement was for good reason. Kutchma’s stage presence was intense, the set starting with slower rock songs with a twang and building in energy until Kutchma was jumping up and down with his guitar accompanied by an enthusiastic Five Fifths. The bass player is the one who stuck out in my memory; he looked like he was having the time of his life on stage. Kutchma made sure to include powerful monologues as well, which is something that he has brought over from Red Collar. Overall, the opening bands were really fantastic and provided high energy that grew even higher while waiting for Bombadil to take the stage.
I can say without a doubt that everybody in the audience on Saturday night was truly excited for Bombadil to get on stage. The last time the band played was two months prior at Hopscotch Music Festival. The last time Bombadil played at Cat’s Cradle was December 2010, opening for the Avett Brothers at their surprise show. When a talented band like Bombadil does not play often, you know that when they do play it’s going to be a good time.
This was definitely the case for Saturday night. Wearing colorful embroidered and painted blazers, Bombadil opened the show with the old song “Jellybean Wine” which earned a huge cheer from the audience. They continued through a great mix of old and new songs with the audience giving wholehearted applause and the band grinning and thanking us for coming repeatedly throughout the night.
I think one of the best things about Bombadil is that the music they make is meaningful. After hearing bands play music that has no emotion or has no point, it is refreshing to listen to Bombadil and also to see a band that shares your excitement for being there. Highlights of the night included “Laundromat,” “I Will Wait,” “A Question,” “One Whole Year,” “The Pony Express,” and “Leather Belt” off of All That The Rain Promises and old songs like “Honeymoon,” “Oto the Bear,” “Marriage,” “Johnny,” “Three Saddest Words,” “Smile When You Kiss,” “So Many Ways To Die,” and “Cavaliers Har Hum.”
The band put on an amazing performance that the audience just didn’t want to end. Two encores later, the band had to ask the audience to stop cheering because they simply hadn’t prepared anything else to play. We certainly wore the band thin and I enjoyed every minute of Bombadil’s performance on Saturday night.
I only have one request for Bombadil: can we do it again?
It has been a long time since we have heard anything come from the local folk group Bombadil, which is really quite a shame. Maybe that is why I was so excited for the release of All That The Rain Promises, a new album that follows their 2009 release of Tarpits and Canyonlands. Everything that you hoped would be present on a Bombadil album is apparent in this new release: strong emotional ballads, beautiful folk and pop melodies, and upbeat songs with deeper meanings all combine to create an album that one can become emotionally attached to.
Battling illness in the band and now cross country living situations, I would say that it is quite a feat that Bombadil has been able to get together and record All That The Rain Promises. The album was recorded in a barn in Oregon in the month of January, and the band had to warm themselves by a fire in between recordings. The album was named after a book found on site. Even after being separated and having gone through a lengthy break in recording, Bryan Rahija, Stuart Robinson, Daniel Michalak, and James Phillips of Bombadil were able to create an album that sounds like the same band that played together in 2009, as if no time had passed.
All That The Rain Promises begins with the strong ballad “I Will Wait,” sung by Stuart Robinson. This piano-driven song is an emotional and bare start to the album with Robinson singing to God and asking him to guide him in the right direction. “I will wait for you to swing below and take me away,” ends the ballad. It leads into “The Pony Express,” which includes all members of the band and speaks of a relationship that has fallen apart.
The album transitions to something more upbeat and hopeful with “Laundromat.” The percussion-heavy beginning turns into a catchy song about taking some chances at a Laundromat. “The next time I am at the Laundromat/ I’m going to talk to her!” or “The next time I am at the Laundromat/ I’m going to call my dad!” Bombadil’s use of vocals, harmonies, and storytelling songwriting is one major characteristic of the band and is just right for the music they are creating. It seems that the melodies are written around the lyrics instead of the other way around. The guitar, harmonica, drum, bass, piano, ukulele, keyboard, and trumpet used throughout the album create good accompaniment for the stories that Bombadil shares.
All That The Rain Promises continues with higher-energy songs. “A Question” is, well, awkward, but in the best way possible. The ukulele and high-pitched “what is it Stewart?” add a lighter aspect to something as potentially traumatizing as asking someone if they have deeper feelings for you, which could indeed make things uncomfortable.
Bombadil has mastered the art of emphasis in their music. There are songs on All That The Rain Promises where the spotlight is on the vocals. “Leather Belt” begins with a beautiful harmony concerning a dropped acorn, and “Flour Water Sugar” consists primarily of singing and harmonies. “Avery,” on the other hand, is a very successful instrumental piece almost right in the middle of the album.
When the last song, “Unicycle,” ends, it’s hard not to turn back to the first track and listen to the album again. All That The Rain Promises contains all the makings of one of the best albums of this year through the instrumentals, melodies, harmonies, and of course, the emotional attachment that accompanies every Bombadil song. I look forward to what this band produces in the future.
Photography by WKNC Photographer Katie Hill
Skylar Gudaz & the Ugly Girls
M83 does one heck of a job with their latest double disc album, Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming, which was released on Oct. 18. Being their sixth studio album, and following behind such pivotal releases like Saturdays = Youth, M83 had a lot to live up to. Even though some have criticized the album for sounding different, I think it’s a beautiful new direction for the band.
Named after the Messier 83 galaxy, M83 continues delivering ambient tunes and goes back and forth between either solely instrumental or minimal lyrics with full-blown epic tracks on Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming. There are a ton of space and dream references, which create a feeling of being outside of this planet while the listener zones out to it.
Anthony Gonzalez, producer and main component of M83, described this two disc compilation as “brother and sister, with each track having a sibling on the other disc.” I personally can’t quite figure out if he’s referring to the six instrumental tracks, but that’s how I choose to believe the two discs are paired off. There’s also a few interesting plays with the way the tracks are arranged on the discs with titles, like tracks 10 and 11 being, “When Will You Come Home?” followed by “Soon, My Friend.”
Going back to the main theme of this album, dreaming, the listener can either feel it with the synth and shoegaze sounds, or with the spacial lyrics. Gonzalez said himself in an interview with Spin magazine that, “It’s mainly about dreams, how every one is different, how you dream differently when you’re a kid, a teenager, or an adult. I’m really proud of it. If you’re doing a very long album, all the songs need to be different and I think I’ve done that with this one.” I agree that the album progresses perfectly, and one can get a sense of maturity as it continues.
Most of the lyrics on the album either refer to time, love, or space, like in “My Tears Are Becoming a Sea,” with the lyrics “I’m slowly drifting to you/ this star is a planet,” or in “Claudia Lewis,” saying “alone, twenty millions years from my place/ a slide on the starlight./ Watch out, a new planet right on my trail!/ The space, oh, oh it’s mine!”
They also chose to use instruments that they’ve previously never experimented with, like a saxophone jam on their first single and second track, “Midnight City.” The use of the saxophone and other instruments, and the way in which M83 created this album, seems to be heavily influenced by a mixture of the synth-pop, as well as shoegaze, created in the 1980s.
Prior to this album, Gonzalez toured with Depeche Mode, who were huge throughout the ‘80s and still create music with the same darker electronic sounds. The song “OK Pal” reminds me of Tears for Fears, who were also extremely popular in the ‘80s, because of the vocals and music. You can get a sense of the shoegaze genre with the droning repeated lyrics accompanied by heavy instrumental emphasis in the songs “Another Wave from You” and “This Bright Flash.”
They’ve also included two monologues: the track “Echoes of Mine,” which is a beautiful story in French of a woman walking through a forest and reverting back to her twenty-year-old self, ending with “I loved like I’d never loved.” The second, “Raconte-Moi une Histoire,” which means “tell me a story,” is of a child telling the listener about a frog that changes its life, which sounds peculiarly like a story of a drug experience. This adds a whole other level to some of the lyrics and sounds of the album, but relating it to space is enough detail on that, and it’s interesting that they chose to do an English monologue with a French title, then the reverse.
In all, this album has to be a huge personal revelation for Gonzalez. He said in an interview with music OMH, that Hurry Up, We’re Dreaming is “a reflection of my 30 years as a human being” and something he dedicated to himself. Each listener can travel to the place where he was each time they put on this album, and float out to space with the beautiful lyrics and synth sounds.
Let me start off by saying I always love a band that takes sips of beer in between songs. The boys of Yellow Ostrich were delightfully playful, with front man Alex Schaaf charmingly interacting with the audience and willingly answering questions like “What is your favorite color?” (It’s red.) Not only that, but they were extremely talented. The songs ranged from garage rock grittiness to melancholic and haunting ballads, most of which included clever, not annoying, uses of looping. Schaaf passionately shredded on his guitar and drummer Michael Tapper beat the drums like they were someone he hated. However, it was bassist Jon Natchez who stole my heart. When Natchez was free of his duties as a bassist, he doubled as a full-blown brass band, playing the trombone and tenor sax with impeccable style and talent.
Following Yellow Ostrich, I had a feeling I was in for a good time with Delicate Steve when I saw the strobe lights come out. I am familiar with Delicate Steve’s music, and they have been climbing my “Most Played” list on iTunes throughout the year. The stage lights had been turned off, and one by one the members of the band arrived on stage, lit only from below by the aforementioned strobe lights. The minute Steve Marion and the band begin to play the appropriate “Welcome – Begin,” the audience knew it was time to dance. I felt like I was walking in on the Wild Rumpus, with the tribal-like percussion and Steve’s fancy fingers shredding on his treble-like guitar. It didn’t stop there, as Steve and his crew managed to keep the party going with upbeat jams like “Sugar Splash,” but still made time to showcase the band’s real talent with more melodic tunes (which are still very danceable). It was a phenomenal experience, one in which I will not miss out on if they come around again.
-Salt Water Jaffee
Ra Ra Riot returned to the Cradle in Carrboro with more dazzling dance songs. The newly-revamped Cradle provided almost twice the amount of dance space than in previous years, and most concert attendees took advantage of all the leg room! The six-piece band showed off their dynamic instrumental talents throughout their set, changing instruments and having different band members sing lead vocals. One of the best parts of Ra Ra Riot is their added twist on what could be average indie. Violinist Rebecca Zeller and electric cellist Alexandra Lawn were the most interesting to watch on stage because of their obvious passion for their instruments, and lulls in songs were spiced up with their luscious arrangements. Lead singer Wes Miles fed off the energy of the crowd thumping and dancing. He kept the crowd enthralled with his energy and vocals, which never seemed to miss a note. The New York band played their hits from their first CD, including “Ghost Under Rocks,” “Can You Tell,” and “Boy,” as well as others from The Rhumb Line. The band mixed in new songs from their second album The Orchard, such as “Shadowcasting.” Finishing off the night, Wes Miles told the audience we were a “special crowd,” and continued into the encore that left everyone dancing even after the music stop playing.
I arrived to the sold-out show with a few friends right before Minus the Bear started. Thanks to some skill we scurried our way to the front and waited in anticipation. Minus the Bear came out and started with a bang. In celebration of their tenth anniversary they played the entire Highly Refined Pirates album and a few new songs. Even though I was not familiar with this album, they did not disappoint. They had amazing stage presence and were all in sync with each other in a way that seemed effortless. In combination with their epic lights, I got that show “high” people talk about.
I was happy to be near the guitarist because his performance was just as admired as the lead singer. You can distinguish a Minus the Bear song by its signature guitar sound and the guitarist, Dave Knudson, was brilliant. But like I said, the entire band was brilliant. It’s safe to say that I am never missing a Minus the Bear show, if they come around again.
“This in no way a return to basics; it is an example of how to successfully tackle the complex.”
If there was one thing Alan Palomo would have to answer to with his second album as Neon Indian, it would be the huge amount of hype and acclaim from his 2009 debut Psychic Chasms. The Texas-based musician, coming off of rave reviews and praise, also had the distinct problem of being grouped among a handful of musicians making similar, yet compelling music. All this combined did not necessarily make it easier for Palomo and company to make a successful second album.
With labeling and comparisons easy to make in a market of music that includes a wide range of rising musicians including Toro y Moi, Washed Out, and well-established artists like Caribou, they had to make an album that was different from an ever-growing crowd of talented musicians and grounded favorites, yet true to the essence of their sound.
In the face of this diversity, Neon Indian was able to answer with one of the most compelling synthpop albums of the year in Era Extraña.
The art of mixing layers of synthesizers is one of the distinguishing factors of this album. Delicately placed and perfectly timed, the ability that Neon Indian has in execution in an area that could have easily been cluttered is one of the more admirable qualities of the record. The expertise of placement lays in the fact that Neon Indian is able to get these really poppy, intricate patterns of synthesizer without being cluttered or ruining their sound.
The best example of how this execution works so masterfully comes within the track “Polish Girl.” The track is able to build upon itself, adding diversity and spouting with moments of colorful synthesizer that shoot from the heart of the track itself. On top of this includes subtle moments that add rhythmically and effectively to the overall track.
With all this in mind it’s also necessary to point out the amount of variation that Neon Indian goes through from track to track. From glittery synth tracks like “Polish Girl” to grittier, harder sounds like “The Blindside Kiss,” Neon Indian demonstrates how they are able to change up their sound while keeping the essence of their synthpop intact.
Much of the credit of this album is in response to how Palomo’s harmonic arrangements hold this collection of wild songs together. It is his effort as a singer that has the impact of charging this coherent sound forward.
Coherence is a big part of the story of this album. Though it is able to change, the album still holds onto its original focus. This not only keeps it compelling to listen to, but it gives the listener a sense of anticipation on how Neon Indian will go about making the next track different.
This in no way a return to basics; it is an example of how to successfully tackle the complex. At its core, it’s a rewarding, fun, electro-pop record that leaves much to the imagination, and demands its listeners to hold on for what is coming up next.
At 23 years of age, Palomo is creating complex musical arrangements at a level that seem way beyond his years. Throughout Neon Indian’s sophomore release, they are able to tackle the hype of their previous success, and leave the listener wondering what the boundaries of such a young act are.
I like turtles…
On Thursday, Oct. 20 at Cat’s Cradle in Carrboro, These United States was the opening band for a packed house. They consist of a drummer, acoustic, two electric, and bass guitar (sometimes keys). They were a high energy alt-country band that kept the audience prepped and psyched for what everyone came to see: Trampled By Turtles.
TBT came out playing. Their insightful lyrics and skillful instrumentation across the band led to a truly awesome show. Trampled By Turtles cannot be exactly classified as a true bluegrass band but rather a mix of genres, incorporating indie, folk, and bluegrass. Their style of music is applicable to all audiences and was very evident in the eclectic nature of the crowd. The crowd especially responded to “Victory” and “Codeine” before they ended their set with “Wait So Long,” which was truly the climax of the show. The audience sang along with every word. After cancelling their show in Carrboro a year ago, this show was long-awaited and met all expectations.
On Monday, Oct. 12 at King’s Barcade, Make, The Proselyte and Thou played an excellent show. Put on by Primitive Ways this show was heavier than any other that has come through Raleigh in a while.
Hailing from Chapel Hill, Make was a great opener for this show. Heavy, sludgy doom that had a bold psychedelic flavor; Make produces some very excellent metal. Support local music and check these guys out here: Make
A nice addition from Cambridge, Mass., The Proselyte bridged the psychedelic feel of the show to a strangely happy yet still dark feeling. These guys brought some great metal to Raleigh, and it was very enjoyable to watch. I’ve never seen a drummer sing and drum so quickly. A very excellent band; both of their releases have been highly rated (Sunshine (2011) and The Proselyte (2007)). Check them here: The Proselyte.
Holy Dio. This is probably one of my favorite bands that I have seen in 2011. Coming up from Louisiana, these guys played on the floor and had one of the most energetic shows I’ve been to in awhile. I couldn’t get many pictures so you’re just going to have to regret not getting your eardrums covered in the sludgy, heavy goodness that is Thou. This five piece really blew me away with their show. I must admit two things helped; one, their excellent blog that allowed me to download their music and two, they played a kick-ass cover of Black Sabbaths Into the Void. Gnarly, dude.
Overall, as I have previously stated, this was and probably will be one of my favorite shows of 2011. It was heavy and covered in slimy, doom-y sludge. Good job to Primitive Ways for really knowing how to book a good lineup and to the bands, Make, The Proselyte and Thou, for giving Raleigh an excellent Monday night.
On Friday, Oct. 7, I made my way up to Motorco Music Hall in Durham for the opening reception of Minus Sound Research. I’ve never been to MSR or Motorco before (actually, this was my first show for WKNC, hooray!) so I had no idea what to expect. MSR is an annual art exhibition featuring artwork by local musicians. It started in 2006, and different artists are featured every year. The art shown is specifically created for MSR, so each year is a unique experience.
After making my way through the parking lot that was I-40, I finally got to the show. People were milling around outside drinking beer, playing foosball, and eating food from the food trucks outside. Inside the building, which looks like it used to be a car garage, people were checking out the artwork on the walls and watching two women perform some sort of slow-motion body art. It was interesting, and received a few skeptical looks from the crowd.
Unfortunately, I got to the show so late that I completely missed Inspector 22, the first singer to perform. Birds and Arrows started playing at about 7:30 p.m., and although the acoustics weren’t that great, people were really enjoying their music. The lead singer, Andrea Connolly, had a voice that could sing softly in one line and powerfully in the next. Her husband (who I could totally tell was her husband, even before she introduced him to the crowd, because they had such great chemistry on stage), Pete Connolly, joined in for backups and harmony. What really made them stand out was the cello player, Josh Starmer, who added a lot of depth to their music. Throughout their set Andrea made eye contact with the audience and was all smiles; you could tell they loved being on stage.
There were other artists performing afterward, but I unfortunately had to leave early.
The MSR exhibit runs until Dec. 3, and even though it’s a small collection, I would check it out if you’re in Durham.
The night started off slowly at Lincoln Theatre on Tuesday, Oct. 4. Greeted by the musical stylings of Insane Clown Posse and a technicolor beach scene emblazoned with the mandate “RELAX,” the pockets of young folk scattered throughout the venue seemed unsure of how to proceed. From the chatter, I gleaned that most knew at least one of the acts was but few knew all three, myself included.
A fairly short, red-headed man with a wholly acceptable beard took the stage in the form of Despot just after 9 p.m. to the crowd’s mild interest. People pushed forward a bit. There were some heads nodding and a few brave souls mouthed lyrics but everyone else was still waiting for the show to start.
I had never seen Despot perform before and I thought he had a good presence on stage. He came across as a little spaced out at times, but his delivery was clean and he was genuinely funny between songs. At one point he set his mic down and attempted to lead the crowd in some light aerobics, which I felt was a refreshing change of pace from the usual hands-in-the-air nonsense. Near the end of his set he announced: “This next song was written in a remote cabin in your state during a schizophrenic freak out. You should be proud!”
Danny Brown was clearly more of a crowd favorite. He and rapper friend/acting hype-man Dopehead (who seemed to be doing his level best to eat the microphone while he was rapping) got those proverbial hands in the air with nonchalant delivery and more bass than the audience knew what to do with. Brown himself was all swinging arms and shrugging shoulders bound up in the best exotic fish Hawaiian shirt I’ve seen in a while. He was obviously enjoying himself, so I had no problem following suit.
Next up: Das Racist. The joke rap/weed rap/whatever rap trio was obviously who everyone was waiting for. Suddenly Lincoln Theatre seemed a lot more crowded. Maybe not Hopscotch crowded, but space was definitely at a premium within spitting distance of the stage.
Heems started off by claiming that they were Skrillex and introducing almost every song as “another dubstep banger.” Their set drew pretty heavily from the group’s first non-mixtape release, Relax, but there were quite a few classics sprinkled in (notably, “You Oughta Know,” “Rapping 2 U,” and “Who’s That? Brooown!”). Lakutis, who had been DJing/cuing music and samples via laptop for all three acts, even took up a mic to perform a song from his own upcoming release.
At one point the audience was asked to throw any old non-smart phones they had onto the stage. Someone actually threw an old flip phone up and Kool A.D. proceeded to call that person’s mother and rap his verse to her in the next song.
Danny Brown and Despot came back out for an all-star rendition of “Power” near the end of the set. Kool A.D. took a few stage dives. Lakutis triggered that air horn sample (you know the one) a few hundred more times. It was a fun set. I caught up with Dapwell after the show for a few minutes in which I told him that Atlanta was a 30-hour flight from Raleigh and he told me about a new auto-tune pedal they’re going to work into the set. I borrowed Heems’ charger when my phone died and he didn’t really mind.