Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Z-Man, Hopie, C-Plus, Rey Resurreccion, Toast and Dregs One at Elbo Room, SF

View From the Front Row, 10/9/12

Been a little quiet on the front row around these parts, but not for lack of hitting shows.  Aesop Rock and co. at the Fillmore and Astronautalis (who opened for the abysmal Flobots) at Bottom of the Hill were both very noteworthy recent shows that I attended, but there are so many shows to cover in the Bay and so little time.  Rather than covering one of the larger tours that I peeped, I figure that a new local performer write-up is long overdue, and Z-Man's recent "album release" show at Elbo Room featured a nice line-up of Bay Area rap talent to cover on this blog.

I put "album release" in quotations since, while billed as an album release party for Z-Man, there is yet to be a new Z-Man album birthed unto the world to my knowledge.  Elbo Room filled up a little slowly at first for this event, but the crowd made up for the initial low turn-out with a pretty great showing of Bay Area rap heads.  Kirby Dominant was in attendance, supporting his gals Toast as well as Z, and one of the performers mentioned that Myka 9 was chilling somewhere in the spot as well.  There were a lot of really hardcore Bay Area hip hop fans in attendance, including some dudes who'd been listening to Gurp City since middle school, and these fools were going extra hard with the support at this show. 

Dregs One acted as the evening's host by introducing each of the acts and getting the crowd appropriately hyped.  He also played a couple of songs as the show's opening act, and kicked a few tracks between sets as the night progressed.  Dregs was pretty excellent at both of his jobs.  As a host, he knew how to properly introduce the performers with class and enthusiasm, and riled up some great responses from the crowd.  He was equally great as an MC, with vivacious stage energy that was rivaled only by the evening's headliner.  Dregs did justice to a couple of tunes from his "Wake Up Call" album, threw down an object-driven freestyle that got some crowd love, and debuted some new songs from a project he's working on with Big Shawn of Bored Stiff.  He also filmed a video for a song off of said project during the show, but had a bit of a hard time getting some of the crowd involved in it.  Here's hoping the footage turned out dope, cus' he deserves it!

Toast was the next act to take the stage, with Kirby Dominant joining them for a verse and supporting them on the hooks.  Toast were clearly having a pretty great time on stage with their raunchy feminine raps, which is why it pains me to say that their music did nothing for me and their set left me feeling a bit cold.  Their style of music, which might be described as a more clever underground version of the White Girl Mob, just doesn't appeal to me I guess.  What's funny is that I was still supporting and dancing up in the front row, and Erica B singled me out a couple of times with some pretty dirty lines that got me smiling a bit.  Not a bad time grooving next to these pretty ladies, but can't say I'd ever be caught dead listening to one of their songs in the comfort of my own home.  Kirby is still the motherfucking man of course, and killed it with his all-too-brief guest verse.

Rey Resurreccion followed after Toast with a solid performance that had a lot of folks in the crowd blazing up some major blunts.  See that haze of smoke surrounding Rey in the pic of him rocking the mic?  That ain't no Elbo Room smoke machine!  Rey Resurreccion put a lot of passion and ferocity into his verses that had dudes who hadn't made their way to the front take a couple steps forward and start bobbing their heads.  His beat selection seemed to bounce back and forth between traditional jazzy hip hop shit and more club-oriented jams, and he handled both styles well.  As someone who is not well-versed in Rey's music, I thought he was very good live.  I hear he's gonna be touring with Bambu in the near future, which will hopefully offer him some new exposure to potential fans.

C-Plus was next to play, and was the only rapper of the night not repping the Bay Area.  I had some mixed feelings about his set.  On the one hand, C-Plus had a dope voice and a pretty great flow, which caught my attention right from the get-go and kept me listening.  On the other hand, he seemed a bit cocky and over-confident on stage, which resulted in his set going on for a bit too long.  He opened by demanding that the crowd get extra hype for an out-of-towner from Sacramento, which was not the right foot to start things off on.  Once he brought up the Giant's and A's victories, he'd silently made amends with the crowd and folks became a bit more supportive.  C-Plus brought a rapper buddy hype-man to the stage about halfway through his set, and dude killed it with his one guest verse but was otherwise an unnecessary distraction.  C took things out on a high note by ending his set with the song "Heaven Is" from one of Ski Beatz's albums, which provided the perfect mellow jazzy note to wind things down with.  Pretty good set overall.

Hopie got on stage once C-Plus had finished, and she delivered an awesome set that felt almost too short by comparison.  From the very first moments that Hopie addressed the crowd and tested their energy with her opening song "Speakers Knock," it became abundantly clear that she had a real connection with the audience and was relishing the opportunity to play.  I've seen Hopie rock it live a fair number of times, and one thing that's always great about her sets is that she really knows how to vibe off of the crowd and how to enjoy her time on stage.  She was in great form with her rapping this evening, and flowed effortlessly through her tracks, with highlights including the charming upbeat ode to Cali herb "Higher, Higher" and the bouncy synth sounds of "Space Case."  Hopie may have gotten the best crowd response of any performer at the show, which is a testament to her ability to connect and have fun with folks during her sets.  She also played an impressive new song from her upcoming "Sugar Water" album as an encore, and I was digging the chill West coast vibes of the track.  Dope set.

Z-Man finally came out as the evening's headliner, blue track suit stunner shades and all, and he definitely killed it with a crazy ill comedic set of Gurped out rapping and fancy footwork.  Z took the stage with the very hypest number in his live show repertoire "Fronted On," only to tease the crowd by cutting it short a few seconds in and starting the track over just to make sure fools got extra hyped for it.  Majority of the crowd was fairly tipsy at this point in the evening, and Z-Man generously broke out some bottles of his signature rosé wine with plastic cups to share with folks up in the front.  He refilled people's cups at the start of each song, and I had to slow my roll a little after the third or fourth cup! A lot of folks were a little too drunk to get super hype and responsive to Z-Man's songs, but it resulted in an unusually comedic show that was still fun as hell to be a part of.  Tracks like "Crumb in the Bay" and "OJ Simpson and Courtney Love" went super appreciated by the crowd, and Z busted some pretty sick dance moves and even bent down and flashed his boxers at one point to emphasize some line about ass.  One of the funniest things to witness was Kirby Dominant's reactions to Z-Man's insane stage antics, particularly when the two Bay Area rap legends began complimenting each other on their classy choices of suits.  I've seen Z-Man live countless times, and he really is one of those dudes whose stage charisma you have to witness for yourself at some point if you live in the Bay.  Highly recommend the man's live show.  Great time, guaranteed.

No "album release," but it was definitely a party up in Elbo Room that night.  Super good show.

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