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.

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