Monday, January 31, 2011

Chiddy Bang @ Irving Plaza - January 29, 2011

I was granted access to another show this past Saturday, Chiddy Bang live in concert at Irving Plaza (or The Fillmore, whichever you prefer)! There is a story behind these tickets as well, so I may as well tell it:

A couple nights before the show I was hanging out with a very good friend of mine (who ended up coming with me to the show) and we were discussing musical acts that we like. We were with newly made friends and he brought up Chiddy Bang as his new favorite act. To this statement, I responded that Chiddy was performing at Irving Plaza that weekend, and I could probably get us tickets. This statement was of course only half true, but I figured that I've been in such a winning mode that I could make a statement such as that. My friend of course responded by saying, "Yea man you should try to get those." I of course decided to make an attempt to, by entering a contest to try and win the tickets. Now I entered under the assumption that they had already given away the tickets, and I was right. The response I got the next day was that the tickets had been given away already. Ah well, no big deal. I was then emailed on the Friday before the show from the same people, who brought to my attention that my name was on the guestlist +1. This email was of course followed up by another one, stating that their original winner couldn't make it to the show, so they decided to give the tickets to me! Awesome sauce!

The strange thing about this particular show, was that the entire show was free, for everyone. However admittance was allowed only to those who happen to be in college, which I think is a really cool idea. I of course I'm twice removed from University life, so getting in for a person like myself would require being able to win the tickets outright. Luckily for me I did.

Getting in was a hassle, which of course could have been really avoidable. The ticket said "Doors at 7pm, show starts at 8pm." Now I absolutely hate being late for stuff, but I also know how these kinds of shows work, they're usually not on time. Knowing this, I decided that me and my friend would try to meet there at around 7:30pm, giving them time to get things together and start letting people in. That plan didn't really work, because we arrived and were greeted by a very long line. We actually stood outside trying to get in for over an hour, not reaching inside until minutes to 9pm, only to realize that there was already an act on stage! The venue kind of reminds me of a smaller version of Webster Hall, and the only reason I'm mentioning this is this was the first time I've ever been to Irving Plaza. The place is two levels, and the first level was packed. When I say packed this time, I mean there was no room to move, or anything, with all the people packed together like sardines. Access to the second level (balcony) was only for people 21 and over, and since it was a college show, the top level was actually not packed at all, so we retreated up there, which had great views of the stage from where we were standing.

The first act who we managed to catch the tail end of was Jake Snider and his band. Judging from the one song we heard, he sounds like a talented guy. Great sound too, somewhere in the funk/rock category. He's also very young, apparently he is the class of 2013 in whatever NYC college he is attending. Youngster indeed but, with a bright future. I don't want to write too much unless I get to see more from the kid, which I'm sure I will sometime later this year.

The next act up to perform are one of my favorite acts that I got to see last year, and my vote for breakout artists this year, Beyond This Point. These guys are awesome performers, and even though they were only granted time to perform two songs, they picked two songs that work well live: "T-shirt" and their biggest hit to date, "Future 2 Future." These guys are a wild and rowdy bunch, and their energy translates to the crowd that was there, who happened to be wild and rowdy college kids looking to party. Their songs of course have lots of instrumental solos, which of course gives the 3 singers time to run around the stage and head bang. These guys rock hard, and even finished their performance with one of the singers doing a stage dive. Maybe the best two song performance ever! I advise if you've never seen these guys perform, add them on Facebook and check them out sometime, they are terribly talented.

Before it was time to bring out the band of the hour, the promoters of this show thought it was a great idea to have a very random fashion show. That's right, there was a 15-20 min fashion show with guys and girls modeling clothes, but nothing really cool, just regular party dresses and heels for the ladies, and jeans and t-shirt ensembles for the men. You couldn't even hear who the designer was, and every time a male model came out he was greeted with boos! I felt kind of bad for them, but I must say, this was not the best time for a runway show. On to the main event!

Chiddy Bang consists of rapper Chiddy and his producer/drummer Xaphoon Jones, and they rock hard. They're that new-age hip-hop, cool fun loving lyrics over very nice sounding, rock fused beats. For someone as young and relatively new in the game though, Chiddy commands a stage presence that you really only see with seasoned veterans in the music business. Great breathing techniques make for lots of lyrics and only a very small amount of dropped words while rapping. This helps of course because a lot of his songs have kind of a faster beat, so you get pretty much the entire song, pretty much no problem. He dropped a few new tracks, a bunch off of his most recent mixtape, and even took time out of his performance to take requests from the crowd: Xaphoon stops playing the drums, and grabs the mic, then asks the audience to give Chiddy topics to freestyle about. It's pretty impressive the range of things suggested for Chiddy to talk about - surfing,  Brooklyn, Fordham, even a platypus! He put together a very impressive string of bars, showing off his freestyle prowess and even figuring out a way to rhyme something with platypus! He closed the show with his biggest track to date, "Opposite of Adults," which was a very energetic performance. So much so that some of the crowd made it on stage to party with Chiddy, and by the time the song was over it seemed like there was over 50 people on the stage jumping up and down, you could barely even find Chiddy in the fray! He took it in stride though, showing that the partying vibe he puts out is not an act, and he can jam out with the best of them. Expect to hear a lot of Chiddy this year, with another mix-tape coming out and their first album on the horizon, things are looking good for the duo, this could be the year of the Bang!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Prince @ Madison Square Garden, January 18, 2011

This is not a typo. I'm officially a legit fan of the purple! This is the second time on Prince's "Welcome 2 America" Tour that I've seen him, and this time I had the home court advantage, Madison Square Garden. There were to be a couple things done differently at this second installment of Prince, but one thing was still the same as before, the tickets were free! It would appear that I've mastered the art of seeing Prince, music living legend, for free. Maybe I'm just lucky, but winning 2 sets of Prince tickets may be a bit more than luck.

Here was difference #1: my original winning tickets, to his show in December at the Izod Center in New Jersey, were well placed tickets, in the middle section of the center, facing the front of the stage. This was great because I managed to see the whole stage from where I was, but I wasn't really far away, it was nice. Those seats were great. The seats I won to the MSG version however, were a bit closer. I was four rows away from the stage. Now this sounds great, and it definitely was, but the stage is built very high (tall) and it's pretty hard to see what's going on without standing, which of course, is not a problem for me.

Then there is difference #2: the set list. This of course was to be expected, because Prince changes set lists the same way people change clothes, everyday. The first change was in the opening act, which for last night's show, was the great funky sound of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. If you've never heard these guys before, you should definitely check them out, you are in for a treat. If you love jazz and funk mixed with soul pop, like you probably should, then you will love these guys. Sharon is a very energetic performer, wearing a dress with tassels like Tina Turner would wear, and dancing much like she would dance. She has a great voice and a great stage presence, and she's backed by a very musically talented band, who have an amazing sound. These guys were an awesome opener. Unlike my NJ show, which had two opening acts, The Dap Kings were the only performers before the man Prince took the stage. This I would guess made for more time for us to spend with the legend.

He came right out and started with a very teasing medley of tracks, starting off with my favorite Prince song of all time, When Doves Cry. I started screaming like a little girl when the opening drums started, only for him to stop 6 seconds into it and start off the beginning of some other songs. Apparently this is called the Purple Medley, consisting of very small snippets of a lot of his hits: Pop Life, Sign of the Times, Nasty Girl, Darling Nikki, and some other hits. After giving the capacity crowd a good and proper tease fest he jumped right into Kiss. Not a bad start if I do say so myself. He brought out twin girls who were his back up dancers. They looked like younger versions of Alicia Keys, as my friend who went with me described them.

I suppose the best way to go through this set would be to cover all the songs he did that he didn't do during my NJ show. He went through a really cool segment of his more funky tracks like Cool, Cream, and Let's Work. He slowed things down by leaving, and his backup singers returned and did an unbelievable rendition of Arms of the Angel. I didn't realize they had such amazing voices until then. He came back out to do Somewhere Here on Earth and She's Always in my Hair. He of course "finished" the show with Purple Rain, which one would assume is the one song that he MUST do every night. He then made his first exit.

His first encore consisted of A Love Bizarre, which he followed up with leaving again. He made his triumphant return a second time to do a few tracks he did at the NJ show: If I was Your Girlfriend, Insatiable, and of course Scandalous. He then left yet again, only to return in the fashion he arrived at the NJ show in: Dearly Beloved! It was time for us to go Crazy, which was great because right after that he decided that we should party like it was 1999. It was awesome because during one of these encores, he came on with Sharon Jones, The Dap Kings and the incomparable Maceo Parker (who was performing with Prince at different intervals during the night). The show finally finished with a version of Peach, which may have been on his 4th encore, I can't even remember! After he left this time, everyone stayed, thinking he was teasing us again. The funny thing was, after a while they finally turned the house lights on. Which of course led to a lot of people leaving. Now they tried to do this at the show in NJ, but the vast majority of us stayed, and Prince actually came back out and played some more songs with all the lights on. This was NOT the case at MSG, because as soon as the lights came on the stage crew started taking stuff down. That's usually the best sign that someone is not coming back.

I suppose the best thing to do is compare the two shows to figure out which one I liked more. I had ridiculous fun at both shows, but I'm willing to say that I liked the set at the NJ show more (I must admit, he did almost every song I love of his besides a couple) but I liked the vibe of the MSG show more. So I suppose, a tie?! You can't go wrong seeing Prince live, and if you're in NYC you have one last chance to do it at MSG, on February 7th. I would go if I were you. Who knows, with my luck I may even see you there!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

RapRocks @ The Studio at Webster Hall, January 6, 2011

Woohoo! The contest winner strikes again! I won a pair of tickets to go to this combination show at The Studio @ Webster Hall this past Thursday, so of course, I went! Now Webster Hall I've been too quite a few times, but I hadn't been to this alleged "Studio" until that night. It would appear that Webster Hall has an actual music studio that doubles as a lounge in the basement of its giant establishment. The capacity is somewhere around 300, so it makes for a quite intimate setting to see live music.

I especially love going to shows where I don't know anyone, or there isn't a big named act performing. I always think it's cool to see someone before they "blow up." Lots of talent at this show on Thursday night, so hopefully there will be enough blowing up to go around for everyone.

The first performer was Googie Gohard, a very fun and entertaining rapper out of New Jersey. His set was short and sweet, doing only 3 songs, but you could tell he had the crowd from the first song he decided to do. He has a great stage presence and a really inviting voice, not to mention the tracks the DJ was playing were crisp, so everything sounded great. His last track was his most entertaining, rapping about crazy girls and the men who love them (himself included of course), and he left the stage to a rousing round of applause, then spent the rest of the show hanging out with people, and enjoying it with the rest of the music loving fans. He wasn't to be the only person to do this, as everyone pretty much hung out and watch the other artists, which was nice.

The next performers were Trinity, a three person hip-hop group with two guys and a girl (who also sings on some of their tracks). I mentioned the sound of Googie's set being great, so I could differentiate it from these guys, who had a really tough act to begin with in the first place, but their sound seemed a bit loud and not nearly as clear. They performed with energy, but you could tell that they feed off of crowds, and when the crowd weren't really giving them that energy back, their performance lost a bit of luster. Their songs were good though, but I would say they were my least favorites for the night.

Up and coming pop singer Shyvonne was up next, and she definitely did not disappoint. She took time off from singing songs to do a couple songs acapella, and it was then that you realized that you are dealing with a legit singer with a ridiculously amazing voice. She was the only artist for the night who did a song I'd ever heard prior to being there, a track called "Mind Reader," which she performed much to my surprise, because I had no idea who sang it in the first place! She was amazing and commanded the stage, even bringing out a couple of back up dancers to perform a song with her. She really used every aspect of a performance to rock it. It was great.

The next act probably should have went last; a rapper by the name of Rocky Business, who was backed by his band. This was the part of the evening where I actually felt bad that I hadn't checked my coat, because, it was mosh time! These guys are full of energy and Rocky himself is quite the crazy character. All of their songs have great sounds, nice guitar solos and fun lyrics. He even brought out one of the guys from Ninjasonik to make things all the more insane. Truthfully speaking, when I heard about the show, I was under the impression that the people performing would all sound somewhat like Rocky and the gang, it being a show called RapRocks and all, but I was wrong. It was OK though, these guys definitely made sure I didn't miss out on my mosh time! Rocky even jumped in to the pit with us for a spell, these guys were awesome.

Show Tufli was the next artist to reach the stage; and much to my happiness, the second one in a row with a backing band! If Rocky Business were heavy metal, then Show Tufli was definitely Jazz & Blues. His sound was very mellow, but his voice resonates. It worked out well too because most of their songs were about women and being in love. The vibe clearly mellowed out, but it was still a good one. There were definitely more women in the crowd at this point, no doubt awaiting the arrival of their artist Show Tufli, who was making it quite clear that water would be the drink of choice for the night, since apparently he recovered from having a stroke. I'm glad he is strong and well again, and after hearing this guy live, you would be too.

The co-host was the lead singer of the White House Band, who were up next. Before performing, they threw out copies of their CD (which I managed to get, after it fell on the floor and the case cracked) and copies of their cards, then proceeded to play some face-melting guitar solos and rap over it. Upon arrival all the talk was about the White House Band, someone even said they had a sound like The Roots. Now that is quite a bold statement, I would say sound-wise they're not like them at all (if anything, Show Tufli is the closest with their jazzy riffs) but they're still a lot of fun.

The next rapper up was Matthew Ragazino, or Maffew Ragazino (awesome, I know). He was backed by the DJ playing his tracks and his hypeman. This was the act a friend of mine was telling me about, who happens to be his manager/promoter. His style is inherently a Brooklyn one I would say, and his beats are produced by some of hip-hop's most respected sound engineers (DJ Clark Kent and Nottz to name a couple). Mr. Ragazino is from Brooklyn, and his song "Where I'm From" is an ode to his growing up in the rough neighborhood of Brownsville (one neighborhood over from me, in East New York). When he performed this particular track, the guys made sure to have the "Where I'm From" t-shirt on display. Look for more of this guys tracks to invade your radio stations. As they say in the rap business, "get used to this one."

The closing act was another solo performer, this time, without a hype-man even. Homeboy Sandman was the last guy up, and proceeded to thank everyone who stuck around for his set. At this point there were far less people than earlier, but I'm glad I stayed until the end because lyrically this guy was by far the best. His style is a rather technical one, with awesome wordplay and metaphors that he delivers over cool beats, and as fast as humanly possible! This guy's breathing technique is awesome, putting down a few bars per breath at times before needing to get more air. The Sandman probably represented the rapper with the most lyrical talent for the night, so I could understand why he was billed as the last performer for the night. He was a great closer of a great show and I would enjoy getting an album of everyone who performed that night.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Rock & Roll Circus Day One, Lincoln Center, January 3, 2011

What a great idea. Have a bunch of Rock and Punk bands play under the tent of the Big Apple Circus at Lincoln Center, or so they thought!

Rock & Roll Circus is a 2-day rock music show/festival at Lincoln Center, and I decided to check out Day 1. Now the first day was a free show, and actually with more bands than the second day, which wasn't a free show. I really contemplated getting tickets for the second day because OK Go was supposed to perform, but as I found out attending Day 1, they were no longer booked for the show, so that would really have been a waste of money considering I didn't know anyone else who was playing on Day 2. I hope that last party made sense! Anyways on to the show:

As you walk in there is a lobby area with booths where you can get food and drinks and just have a seat and hang out. It was very cool how they set the whole thing up. After the lobby area there was another area where you could buy souvenir t-shirts, cool circus hats and memorabilia, and even get a Circus tattoo! Yes, a REAL one! When I walked over there was a guy getting one, but he already had so many, it was almost as though this one didn't count. Showtime!

The first band in the circle were the Electric Tickle Machine (yes, that's their actual name). And these guys were wild, with a great sound. They're sound I suppose could be sort of compared to the band The Darkness, but I liked these guys a lot more than I like them. They had a percussion guy who was playing the tambourine and something with sleigh bells on it, and he was awesome. Shirtless, with these high-wasted leather pants and these balloon sleeves, he played that tambourine like nobody's business, and even walked through the crowd with it and partied a bit with the onlookers. They had a great energy and it translated to their music, which was a lot of fun to listen to, just like them.

The second band up were the only band on the entire lineup that I had heard of (or seen live), Brooklyn's own  So So Glos. Now I saw these guys before, in Brooklyn, opening for Punk powerhouses Titus Andronicus. This show was intense (I was punched in the eye in the mosh pit) due in part to the 2 hour Tequila open bar. Ah well, life lesson learned right? Either way I was expecting more of the same from my boys from Brooklyn. Now the way they had the show setup was exactly how it would be to see the circus: people sitting around in seats and the performers are in the ring in the middle. Now after their first song, they told everyone to stand up and dance, why not right? Everyone obliged. After their second song, they then told everyone that the space in the circle not occupied by the band or their equipment is really for dancing, so they should go down to the circle and dance. Everyone obliged again. By the time the So So Glos got to their final track, Execution, there was no one to stop people from crowd surfing and moshing everywhere. This got the Circus security quite upset and they did their best to control the maniacs (me included), which they ended up doing, eventually. Another amazing performance from  SSG, I'm starting to think this may be a regular thing with them.

Needless to say, SSG are a tough act to follow, but up next was The Pharmacy anyway. For me, their performance was a bit lackluster but, maybe I'm being unfair due to the fact that a mere 5 minutes prior I was holding a guy with a clown mask up over my head while moshing out. Either way, through no fault of their own, this was probably my least favorite of the bands for the night, even including Japanther, who's set was about 3 songs long (we'll get to that!). Their sound didn't really stand out too much for me, it just sounded a bit bland for my liking.

Almost on the exact opposite end of the spectrum was the band that followed, an LA crew by the name of Voxhaul Broadcast. Now their sound was old school, 80s ballad sounding at times and even 60s stuff, like The Who. Their lead singer has an amazing voice for the music they play, it's something like Jim Morrison meets Prince. I say Prince because at the beginning of their first song, he made Prince-like screams into the microphone for over a minute before singing any actual lyrics. They would take time out to have a three person guitar solo, and i LOVE a good guitar solo. One of their guitar players was actually also they're keyboard player, so he was keeping quite busy. They didn't tell anyone to stand up and dance along (everyone was seated during The Pharmacy's set) but by the end of their set everyone was on their feet, clapping and dancing along. From the very young to the old, everyone really liked these guys. I would say music wise, these were probably my favorite act for the night. And they needed to be too, because Japanther was the closing band.

Now there was an intermission of 10 minutes or so between Voxhaul Broadcast and Japanther, the first one of it's kind of the night. If you've see Japanther perform you can probably guess why that is, if you haven't (like me), then you returned to the arena and noticed a few things that weren't there before. The Japanther boys brought their own speakers, as well as a giant flag that said their name that was draped between the two biggest ones. Also their microphone setup is a bit different, they sing through payphone receivers, yes seriously! So they sound as though every lyric is being sang over the phone, it's actually kind of cool. Also, they welcomed everyone back into the ring a la SSG, so they could party and get crazy with them. This wasn't the best idea. Everything was O.K. at first, until security started telling people they had to leave the circle. This didn't go over well with the Japanther fans. Some were escorted all the way out of the show entirely, some threw beer and whatever drinks they had at security. I saw a girl just douse another girl in beer, for no reason! It got out of hand fast. Circus security cut their mics, and Japanther even threatened to leave. They were begged to stay, so what they did was they moved their stuff closer to the people, if the people couldn't come in the circle then Japanther would come to the people. Seemed like a good enough idea. They started playing again, and some dudes started pushing and shoving, but not really moshing, it looked more like they were fighting. By this point, the Lincoln Center guys had seen enough and shut the show down entirely. Someone threw what looked like a full beer at a security guy; why waste a perfectly good beer? The host Acid Betty tried to get everyone out in a peaceful manner and was splattered with middle fingers and F-bombs. Acid Betty, refusing to be outdone, said she appreciated the middle fingers, it's the most action she's gotten in months!

Japanther, who are pretty much as classic punk as one can find nowadays, were very upset breaking down their equipment, as I would be too, because it wasn't really their fault. You have to hate when people decide to be ridiculous and belligerent and mess up a great FREE show like that, but I suppose you also have to know your audience. The people who put the show together probably were unaware as to the type of crowds these bands bring, and these are very essential in putting together a good show, and getting things to run smoothly. Asside from the crappy ending, this was an awesome show, and a great way to kick off the new year.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

My Favorite Events/Parties from 2010!

Man 2010 sure was a good year for top ranking parties and events. There was a huge debate, but here is my list for my favorite events for the year that was:

Top 5 Events/Parties

5) Fashion's Night Out, All over Soho, NYC
- Open Bar? You Bet. All kinds of stuff! Too much to name really, but my favorite was Star Vodka, the best vodka I've ever had in my life.
- What's the haps? Fashion's Night Out is apparently a way for people to get really good deals on clothing, but there is really very little shopping going on. For the most part, a lot of industry folk go from store to store and drink all the free booze and eat the free food the stores have, not unlike myself. I was of course in Soho, which has the highest concentration of stores participating in the wild night. By the time 10pm rolled around (the festivities start during the day) I was running through the middle of streets, dancing and high fiving police officers. They really should have called this Spring Break.

4) Thrillist 5-Year Anniversary Party, Le Poisson Rouge
- Open Bar? You know it. Jose Cuervo and Bacardi Breezers, some sort of Vodka. A bunch of stuff really.
- What's the haps? I won a VIP invite to the Thrillist 5-year Anniversary Party, which was sponsored by a whole bunch of people, including Phillips Norelco, who gave us contest winners their new Electric razor, the Sensotouch 3D (which of course runs for $200 or so). Tack on the great performance from Atomic Tom and you have an amazing event. Needless to say, I stumbled out of there a drunken hot mess. It was still awesome though.

3) Yelp Country Club, Randall's Island Golf Center
- Open Bar? Free drinks galore: Whisky, beer, cider. Free food galore: Luke's Lobster, The Taco Truck, Led Zeppole, Smorgas Chef, Qdoba and way more!
- What's the haps? As a Yelp Elite, I get to go to all these really awesome Elite events, complete with free food and free drinks (thanks Peter D. and Jane!). In June Yelp topped all other events for the year by throwing this huge event at the Randall's Island Golf Center. Lots of booths with free food and drinks from different vendors and restaurants, and you could even play games like Bocce Ball or Mini Golf or hit the driving range like a pro. Impressive day indeed, even for someone who sucks at golf, like myself.

2) Heineken Encore NYC, Pier 36
- Open Bar? Yes sir! Free Heineken like crazy, as well as lots of free food.
- What's the haps? This may have been the best event for the year, but the number 1 definitely beat it. In any other year this would be tops for sure. Nas, Cee-Lo and J-Cole live, free Heineken and free food, in a huge space that was all done up just for this show. There was even a sound studio, so if you felt so inclined you could lay down a track and jam out to one of their beats. This was a perfect ending to a very beautiful day indeed.

1) VH1 Save The Music - The Ultimate Face-Lift, Lord & Taylor's
- Open Bar? Hell yea! More than you could possibly drink, almost every floor had it's own free drinks and different themes, ex: Cognac on the 10th floor, Chocolate Martinis on the 9th floor. Utter insanity!
- What's the haps? This was, without question, the best event for 2010, no comparison, hands down. This may have been, the best party I've been to in my life! As I said before, the majority of the floors had different food and free booze. They had fortune tellers on one floor, aerial dancers on another, and even sketch artists drawing pictures of patrons. DJs galore: Finger on the Pulse, Sky Nellor, Lexey, and even Andrew W.K.! On top of alllll of this craziness, they give you a key (or a bunch of keys, in my case) that you can use to open one of several boxes on various floors. Each box had a different prize: free guitar, concert tickets, all kinds of stuff.   The best part of this whole ordeal, was the fact that I couldn't beg anyone to go with me! Thank God for Facebook or else no one would even believe that this actually happened. Yeap, best party of the year.

My Favorite SHOWS from 2010!

Here are a few of the more awesome-sauce stuff that happened last year. 2010 was a great year for fun events and such, and these are my top 5 shows for the year that was:

Top 5 Shows/Concerts: This was quite possibly the hardest list to compile because I was blessed in 2010 to go to some great AMAZING shows. Here's what I think were my top 5 for the year. Next to the show name is the venue it was held at.

5) WIADCA Benefit Concert for Haiti, Behind the Brooklyn Museum
- Open Bar? Nope. BYOB for me.
- Line-Up: Unbelievable line-up of Caribbean Artists to the tune of Carimi, Bruk-Up, Mastamind, Pupa Leendi, Bud Ramsey, Kevin Lyttle, Serani, Ky-Mani Marley, David Rudder, Spragga Benz, Freddie McGregor and more!
- The Show: The show was so packed with artists that by the time it was over some people hadn't even come out to perform! Everyone on the show (or so I heard) were playing for free or close to it, so basically all the proceeds made went to benefit Haiti after the earthquake. It was a great idea for a fundraiser from the West Indian Day Carnival Association.

4) The 4th Annual Okay Player Holiday Jam, B.B. King's
- Open Bar? Nope.
- Line-Up: Surprise line-ups are always best, don't you think? The Roots feat. Rahzel, Estelle, John Legend, Patti Labelle, Melvin Van Peebles, Chiddy Bang, Yelawolf, the cast of Fela! and MANY More.
- The Show: You have to be joking me right? Every year in December The Roots hosts a holiday party and invite all their best friends to come out and jam. 2010 was no different, with a line-up that was amazing. On top of that, the entire show is free! Yay for The Roots! Having the great one Patti Labelle come out was a welcomed surprise to just about everyone in the audience, and quite possibly the biggest surprise of the night, but it was still awesome.

3) Heineken Inspire Encore NYC, Pier 36
- Open Bar? You bet. All the Heineken, Heineken Light and Heineken Dark you could drink. Not to mention free food (beef patties, tacos, pretzels, hotdogs).
- Line-Up: DJ sets from Roxy Cottontail and Diplo (of Major Lazer fame), and performances from J-Cole, Cee-Lo Green from Goodie Mobb/Gnarls Barkley and Nas!
- The Show: It's funny because when I got the invite for this show I thought it was a joke. It was at a "secret location" released only on the day of the show. And it took me quite a while that day to find it, but it was well worth it when I entered the huge Pier and saw the stage and the amazing setup, I knew, I was in for a treat. Free Heineken and free food and free entry and free Nas?! The best part was the fact that it was in November, and it was about 66 degrees outside. A beautiful day indeed.

2) WIADCA Brass Fest, Behind the Brooklyn Museum
- Open Bar? Nope. BYOB for me.
- Line-Up: Another ridiculous Caribbean Artists lineup: Destra Garcia and her Band, Krosfyah feat. Edwin Yearwood, Lyrikal, Tallpree, Denise Belfon, JW & Blaze, Lady Saw, and Machel Montano HD feat. Patrice Roberts and Farmer Nappy.
- The Show: It was hard for me to not put this as the top show for the year for me, but my number 1 pick should really explain that. Utter pandemonium ensued when the big bands hit the stage, with Machel Montano and his gang ending the show, but not before bringing out JW & Blaze, the "Palance" boys to completely destroy the place. If you didn't leave this place sore, battered, and beaten, then you probably weren't here. PALANCEEE!

1) Prince and Friends, IZOD Center
- Open Bar? Nope.
- Line-Up: Cassandra Wilson opened (then did a duet with Prince!), followed by Maceo Parker and his band (who then did a jam session with Prince!), and then Prince, the man of the hour, came out and destroyed it. He brought out Sheila E. too!
- The Show: As I said before, it was a tough fight for #1, but this had to be the #1 show for the year. Free tickets to see a show is awesome, but to see a living legend, that you've never seen perform before? Yes please! He had 3 separate curtain calls (the second of which was actually Sheila E. instead of him) and performed for over 2 hours. Yea it would appear, that this was my top show for the year.