View From the Front Row, 7/2/11
June had its fair share of weird intimate shows in bizarre venues, and Bleubird's semi-secret gig with Edison and Cars & Trains was one of the month's major highlights. I learned about this show via Edison hours before it went down, but a few minor tweaks to my Wednesday evening schedule and it was on. The event took place on the corner of the 18th St. and Dolores St. in San Francisco, next to the tennis courts of Dolores Park and across the street from Bi-Rite Ice Cream. Bleubird had his bad-ass colorfully decked-out RV Van parked there, and the music in question took place in the close quarters of the van's interior. Bleubird claimed that it could fit up to 35 people in it, but since there were only about 15 in attendance and the van felt a bit cramped, my guesstimate would be more in the "20 max" range. Really killer sound system though!
Cars & Trains played first, with Bleubird rallying some people up off of the grass outdoors and into the van. Cars & Trains had a ton of equipment set up in the RV, though the makeshift guitar supplied to him by Edison was not in proper tune to play and was one less accessory to the mix. The limited space and massive amount of gadgets on hand bordered on being dangerous, but the set was pretty magical, with Cars & Trains crafting a very complex musical arrangement that felt like a constantly evolving beat. I was sitting inches away from his laptop, and it was fascinating to observe the way he used his keyboard/sample pad/foot pedals/etc. to fuel his musical thought process. It was a window into the way a musician works that would've gone unseen in a regular venue setting. Dope!
Edison (who was recently crowned the winner of the West Coast Championship Controller Battle, apparently) went on next with an outstanding set of ill beats that showed off his extraordinary level of skill. People who can't view beat-making outside of the frame of someone sitting at a computer and layering samples had ought to check out Edison's live set asap. Watching this guy work the Monome pad is like getting treated to a maestro piano player's performance, only with blinking button-pushing instead of ivory keys. Really sick beats witnessed mere inches away from their source. Edison's set resulted in the funnest part of the evening's performances when Bleubird and his longtime friend Zach G decided they wanted to freestyle over some of the crazy beats. They were both very clever and hilarious freestylers, with Bleubird mainly rhyming about the tennis courts and ice cream lines while Zach G went on some oddball bat tangent that resulted in some seriously funny line about "Guano pussy" that had folks cracking up. There was a random gal and guy who entered the van off the street, and the gal was shaking it dancing in the van while the guy kicked an embarrassing freestyle that was really fun to watch. Edison's MC friend Beastmaster also freestyled a verse from outside the window of the RV, which was awesome. Lots of laughter and good times, topping off a killer set.
Bleubird got on after Edison to kick a quick couple of songs with his laptop and microphone, despite worries that the van battery might be overcharging the equipment or that the SFPD might pick up on the semi-legal rap antics. He performed some impressive numbers that showed off his versatility as an MC, veering from a heartfelt tribute to his tiny hometown off his upcoming Fake Four album to his straight-up gangster verse off "Hustle Hard" from Sole's latest mixtape. I caught a Swashbuckling Napoleans song or two up in the mix as well. Definitely a very entertaining performer, with an awesome nerdy charisma about him and plenty of interesting stories and anecdotes at his disposal. You can also tell that Bleubird spends a lot of time on his lyrics and cadences, as few of his lines felt like filler. Great way to end a very unique stop by the #Freeebird in SF!
Had a chance to chill with these guys for a while afterwards as well, and we got burritos and then hit Missouri Lounge in Berkeley to say what's up to Jel who was spinning there. We also messed around with the loudspeaker on Bleubird's van a lot. Good peoples well worth your attention, be on the lookout for the #Freeebird, coming to a house party/parking lot near you! Some video footage of this most auspicious occasion:
Cars & Trains workin' a beat:
Edison rockin' out:
Bleubird performing a new song from his upcoming Fake Four album: