Monday, November 15, 2010

Heineken Encore Concert @ Pier 36 (11/13/10)

The funny thing about this show was the fact that after all my best efforts, I still almost didn't make it. Well, I thought I didn't, I guess at the end of the day I was actually fine, but it was a real scare. 
I was at work (on set) on Saturday at 5am, and really, had I stayed the entire time I definitely would have missed this show with such a sweet line-up, so I made the decision to leave, which I did at noon. This I thought was a good move, because it would give me ample time to make it to a show I thought was in Chelsea Piers (it wasn't) that started at 3pm. I even stopped at a friend's house and hung out for a bit with my extra time. I left the midtown area at 1:30pm, which I also thought was good enough time. 
I of course get to the train station to find out the E train isn't running. Of course. I then decided to jump on the 6 train, but I thought after a while that it was taking too long so I jumped out at Bleecker St and tried to get a cab. Yea that wasn't my best move! There were so many people begging for cabs and they were all full. After a while I decide to cross Houston to possibly get a cab from the other side. Luckily, in the gas station, a cab driver was just getting back to his cab so I ran him down and got him to take me to the Seaport. 
Even though there was a lot of traffic, we still got down there by 2:20pm, which I thought was great timing all things considered. Now all I had to do was find Pier 36....which isn't at Chelsea Piers, like I mentioned before. Where is it pre tel? Its about a mile east of CP. And since I wasn't about to get another cab (that last one was $11) this meant I had to hoof it. 
I was in such a panic, because I wasn't really sure if I was going in the right direction, plus I was hoping the line wasn't cut off for the show. So I started running, in my jeans and Pradas, full out, to get to this place. And finally, ShangriLa! Now if you don't know about this epic show you may wonder why I went to so much trouble to get to this thing. Well, a couple reasons: 1) I left work early so I could go to this show, which means I didn't get paid for the day. This means I HAD to make it to this show come hell or high water, because I passed up a day of work for it. And 2) how often is it that you get to see Roxy Cottontail and Diplo DJ, one after the other, followed by performances by J-Cole, Dres from Black Sheep, Cee-Lo of Goodie Mobb and Gnarls Barkley fame, and Nas? Oh, did I mention there was free food and all the Heineken you can drink, and that the entire event was absolutely free?!
Well, now that I have your attention, let me explain. I got word that Heineken was extending their Inspire concert series for one last hoorah, another run at an "undisclosed location" in NYC. I of course RSVP, and got the info about where the show was on Saturday morning, which was the day of the show. 
If you've never been to a Heineken party, I would advise that you should sell your right arm to get on the list whenever they have one, especially after Saturday’s festivities. The Heineken guys turned that huge Pier 36 into a musical amusement park, with photo booths, bars with beers aplenty, and even a recording booth for you to lay down a track, if you were so inclined. The stage was a huge one, with a nice runway and beautiful lighting. The setup itself was so awesome, it was worth the cab ride and the no-work almost immediately upon entry. Once I got my first Pilsner of ice cold Heineken, I knew I'd gotten away 
with highway robbery, and no one had even performed yet! Now on to the performers...

The performances had a lot to live up to to say the least. With such a cool space and so much going on, I would have been satisfied had no one showed up! After the early warm DJ got everyone in a good party mood, NYC party legend Roxy Cottontail took over the DJ set, and switched the vibe up to her specialty, techno and club. Her set was fun, as you might guess, and really it was a welcome addition to an otherwise all Hip-Hop line-up. 
From there we moved onto another well know club DJ, Diplo. He of course has gotten more fame (and fortune no doubt) since linking up with the guys from Major Lazer, but he's been a very well known DJ for quite sometime. He went through a very eclectic mix of Rap, house and dancehall, much to the delight of the onlooking Heineken lovers in the crowd. 
The opening performer came right after Diplo, and it would appear, according to some people I spoke to, that he was the "special guest," J-Cole. This of course matters because the rumor for the night and for the previous few days was that Kanye West was the special guest performer. The presence of the one Amber Rose didn't help things much; needless to say, Mr. West was NOT in the building.  New up and coming rapper J-Cole, prodigy of Jay-Z, went through his catalog of hits 
and new tracks like a seasoned veteran. Of course a lot of the onlookers were bigger fans of the new artist than me, so they knew a lot of his work. His vibe was great though, and he has a great stage presence. Things are definitely going to go up for this artist, especially being under the wing of a demi-god like Jay-Z. 
The next performer up was Dres from Black Sheep. He wasn't onstage for more than 2 songs I believe, which gave him enough time to do Black Sheep's big song, and one of his new songs off his upcoming album. He then made way for an appearance by DJ Kool Herc, the man often branded as the inventor of rap music. He came out to say a few words about the show and how happy he was for everyone to come out. We were also very happy to be there!
After that, Cee-Lo was up next. He definitely was best dressed for the night, coming on stage wearing an all white suit complete with a bowler hat. His backing band were all female, wearing all white as well albeit far less clothing than their frontman. He put together a very energetic set, and was the longest performer for sure for the night. He finished with his ode to golddiggers everywhere, the aptly named "Fuck You", and left to a rousing ovation. I was kind of annoyed he didn't do "Crazy," his hit with Gnarls Barkley, but I guess you can't win them all. 
The final act of the night, was none other than the Queens poet of many names, Nasir Jones, aka Nas. He also came complete with a backing band, obviously with the knowledge that everything sounds better with a live band. His set was a bit short for my liking. I want to blame that on the fact that he came on stage late, but that's because the show started later than expected. Having said that though his performance wasn't lacking by any means. He kicked things off with 3 straight tracks from Illmatic, the album widely regarded as his best and one of 
rap music's best ever. His megahit "If I Ruled The World" was sang with backup vocals by the crowd, who I think would have made actual backup vocalist Lauryn Hill proud. He went to "Hate Me Now," resurrected hip-hop with "Hip Hop is Dead," and even started a chant of 'Braveheartttt' with "Made ya Look." It was a truly surreal performance for me, getting to see a living legend show off his talents right before my eyes. After it was over, everyone went their separate ways, unbelievably happy no doubt that they were allowed to be a part of one of the sickest events imaginable. I still can't believe I was... 

Friday, November 12, 2010

Legend Factory V3.0 @ Crash Mansion (11/11/10)

So I get a lot of opportunities to go to really cool shows and events, and I thought I would share some of my cool moments with people who enjoy such things: great shows and great events. Here is the first of hopefully many:

Crash Mansion was host to the Legend Factory V3.0 which really is for showcasing new up and coming as well as underground artists and groups to the general public. I've been to quite a few shows at Crash Mansion, so I know this is a great place to see live music, and tonight's line-up didn't disappoint. After about an hour delay Avana Carbonell was the opening act, an artist from New Jersey who has a sound sort of like "Teena Marie, Donna Summer, and Tina Turner." I like all three of those particular artists, but I can't say I was a fan of her sound. It seemed a bit old school but, not necessarily in a good way. She has a good voice but I feel like she would do better with different music...possibly.

For a complete difference in vibe Nikolas Metaxas from Greece was on stage next, and man was he amazing. He has an amazing voice and I like his sound, it's kind of a soulful pop/rock, like John Mayer, but Metaxas can actually sing! It's difficult to sound as good as he did live, but apparently not for Mr. Metaxas, who moved to the USA after a good amount of success in Greece and in other parts of Europe. He keeps this up and that success can only increase, and snowball.

I will take this opportunity to say that I didn't get to see everyone in their entirety. I missed Rasheeda Wallace completely, one of the acts I really wanted to see after hearing good things (I was next door with my boy Aaron eating Chinese food!). I also didn't get to see L.A in her entirety, but what I did see was a female MC with legitimate rhyming skills. Not some gimmicky bimbo flow like certain popular female rappers (Nikki Minaj comes to mind, obviously) but someone with real lyrics. She even took time out of her energetic set to do a little spoken word. She was also the first artist to not use the stage at all, and just perform from the floor, right in front of onlooking music lovers. I enjoyed her as well.

I feel as though, the act right after L.A, an R&B group by the name of Beyond This Point, was possibly the highlight for me of the night. Everyone who performed didn't do more than 4 songs (I feel like they really only did 3 a piece) but BTP made the most of their three tracks. They all had a great sound and a great feel to them, being R&B with a live band (3 vocalists, 1 keys, 1 bass, 1 electric guitar, 1 drummer). Their performance was fun but obviously well rehearsed, even their headbanging was in sync. The 3 vocalists would sing in 3 part harmony too, and as a child of the choir and growing up within a musical family, I've always been a fan of harmony. These guys are dedicated too. Right after their performance they were jumping into a van and driving alllllll the way down to Florida for the Miami Music Festival, where they're scheduled to perform tomorrow night! Unbelievable, or amazing really...just as amazing as their performance.

Rapper Live Wire was the next act I saw after BTP, and he was exactly like his name sake, a live wire! He was all over the place: on the stage, off the stage, on a table, sitting on a girl's lap, on the floor, rolling around, on a was a lesson in 'how to utilize the performance space.' He was backed up by Brooklyn singer and my friend Cocoa Sarai, one of the great young voices that you want to hear more of once you hear her sing once. Live Wire's performance was also stellar.

Rico Davis from NJ was also a ball of energy. His performance was probably the most impressive, considering the fact that he had backup dancers with him, and he was singing AND dancing at the same time. With a mic in his hand no less, not even a headset. Quite impressive indeed. He had a couple people accompanying him too (Playboy Swag stands out, but with a name like that it's hard not to) and he kept the partying vibe going for his set.

I felt kind of sorry for the last singer, Tali Ratzon. By the time she came out to do her thing, there wasn't a lot of people left in the place. I of course stuck around because I'm a music fan, and really I wanted to atleast be respectful and hear her out. And I'm glad I did. Her music doesn't really fall into a category per se, it's a combo of latin, reggae, and pop and all mashes up into something that just sounds nice. It was nice to see so many performers with a good backing band as well, and Tali's was no exception. It was all in all a great night.