View From the Front Row, 8/28/10
Alright, so I attend a hell of a lot of indie rap shows. I mean so many that I'm often juggling several shows a week, trying to figure out how much coffee will balance out my lack of sleep. Chances are that if you live in the Bay area and like underground hip hop, you have seen me at some event or another. I'm tall and gangly, dance awkwardly in the front row, and often have a backpack with me (one larger than yours, I'm guessing). I figure this blog is as good a place as any to blab about shows I've recently seen... not gonna try to go back even a week to document those that have already passed since that would be a daunting task, but from here on out I'll try to drop a word or two about them and maybe even share a few pics or videos. Which brings me to my most recent jaunt: Afro Classics, Understudies, Digital Martyrs, and Associated Fresh at Blake's in Berkeley last night.
Got off work at 10 PM and immediately rolled out to the spot since the show was listed as starting at 9. Of course, as anyone who attends rap shows knows, these things tend to start at least an hour and thirty minutes late, so I still arrived before anyone had gotten on the mic. Prior to anyone performing, I dropped by the merch booth and met Foundation, producer of the Insects and some other cool rippity rap groups. We chopped it up for a bit and he's definitely a stand-up dude not to mention an ill producer and DJ. He's got a full album in the works with Murs, so you'll be hearing more about him soon enough I'm sure.
Got all up in the front row when Associated Fresh got on to perform, hadn't heard of'em but they put on a pretty good set. It started with more than a few technical difficulties involving the state of their serato, but they maneuvered around them fairly well with a combination of beat boxing and freestyling to keep the crowds entertained until the beats dropped. Their tracks were definitely on some boom bap shit, and they had some pretty catchy jams... this rapper named Fluent seemed to be the best rhymer out of the 4 MCs. It also turns out that one of the dudes in the group, Gigio, is someone who I'd chatted with at Amoeba previously and who'd given me his demo CD to listen to. I didn't remember who he was when he approached me about it after the set and embarassingly hadn't given his demo a listen yet even though it was months ago, haha... will have to get around to that soon-ish (though given how much music I listen to on the regular, might have to be later-ish).
Digital Martyrs put on a quick but energetic set that sounded fairly good, they brought out some rapper named Mikael from the Nickel & Dime who kicked a good verse as well. The performance was almost too short to document since they were rushed to get the next acts up on stage before midnight. The Understudies, who also rolled 4 MCs deep, came up and seemed to be somewhat of a crowd favorite. They definitely had some dance-able songs that got some folks in the crowd hype, though it may have also had to do with the number of friends they had in attendance. Good stuff.
Afro Classics were the dudes I came to see, and they rocked it pretty dang hard. The funny thing is that when they first came out to perform, nobody seemed interested since most people apparently came out to see the Understudies. They had to get the crowd's attention and win them over, and they did exactly that. It only took only two or three songs before people were back in the front row grooving it up. This was my first time seeing Scarub and Very perform, and they both brought the passionate energy needed to make a good stage show. It was great to see people other than me rocking out and getting into it since I'm way too used to audiences at rap shows standing silently in some corner and observing. My only complaint is that Blake's cover charge was pretty steep at 12 dollars, but grabbing a free shirt from Very kind of made up for it.
Without further ado, some videos from the front to close this write-up out. Please excuse the poor lighting, jerky cam, etc... I ain't no professional, and it's mighty hard to take pics and dance at the same time: