Thursday, May 19, 2011
Very Important PLECTRUMS Launch Event @ Gramercy Theatre, May 18, 2011
So Tuesday of this week I got a message from a friend of mine from DC, telling me that Talib Kweli was having a show at Don Hill's with a full band. He told me he read it on his Twitter and it's probably a good move for me to go. This statement was a bit weird to me because I was under the impression that the legendary dive bar Don Hill's was closed, but that's neither here nor there at this point. Either way, I didn't end up making it to the show because I already had plans (Sneakerpedia Launch Party @ Good Units). Yesterday, sometime in the afternoon, I received an email from my good friends at Fader magazine, informing me that they were having a very special event at Gramercy Theatre and that I should RSVP and go. Oh and of course, the headliner was none other than the great Talib Kweli! I thought, well that worked out nicely now didn't it?!
The event was of course sponsored by the crazy kids from Fader (epic party throwers) and Ben Sherman, who was launching his charity event worldwide and this was the celebration for it. The charity is to raise money for AIDS research, and everyone loves a good cause. Svedka was on cocktail duty last night but you could also buy drinks if you wanted, but why would you want to do that? Now on to the show...
DJ DL was the first DJ on the set, mixing up his usual crazy party mixes. It's been quite some time since I've heard DL play so I was very pleased that he was on the turntables last night. I feel like he used to play at clubs in the city all the time but maybe not as much anymore? Regardless of that, he is still a fine turntablist with great selection skills. The opening musical act was a relatively new group by the name of Graffiti6. When I saw them play I thought, man these guys are amazing! They were last night a band of 5 (despite the name), 2 guitars, 1 bass, 1 guy on keys, and 1 drummer. Upon further investigation though I found out that Graffiti6 is actually just 2 people, the lead singer and multi-instrumentalist Jamie Scott and producer TommyD. Apparently they shuffle the band members when they have different live shows. It didn't matter last night however, because everything they did was unbelievable.
First of all Jamie Scott is an amazing singer; he has a very beautiful voice that really doesn't sound like he looks, if that makes sense. They went through a lot of their tracks, from "Annie You Save Me," to "Stop Mary." "Annie You Save Me" was probably my second favorite song that they did, using three part harmony to deliver the choruses, which is always a good call. The best song for me though, was the song that they finished with, "Over You," which required Jamie to switch from his guitar to the keyboard. It's a beautiful song but the arrangement is absolutely stellar, and not to mention the fact Jamie's voice over the soothing keyboard notes just make for an amazing song, and a very good song to close on. It was annoying though because the crowd for some reason wasn't into it (something that Talib would even notice when he took the stage) which is kind of disappointing considering how talented these guys are. With that said they apparently have an album coming out this year; you should pick it up, I think I will do the same.
After they exited the stage DJ Josh Madden jumped on the turntables for his go-round before the closing act. Josh's mixes are more dance music oriented than the hip-hop centric DJ DL but still quite entertaining. At this point there was also an increased amount of people in attendance, because it seemed as though a lot of people were late. I think that had a lot to do with the fact that they didn't send out the invites to this show until the day of, or at least that's when I got it. Either way his set was still great, which of course was followed by the legendary Talib Kweli...
The band set up and Talib Kweli hit the stage rapping, which is pretty much what one would expect from a respected member of the hip-hop community. He kicked things off with "Going Hard," then went directly to the title track of his newest album, "Gutter Rainbows," reminding the patrons that he's the 'voice of the voiceless, the hope for the hopeless'. He asked a fan if he wanted him to do "Lonely People" and everyone cheered, so he did, and man does that song sound amazing with a live band! Talib went through the catalog of hits, even going back to the Black Star days with "Definition." He let the band take a bit of a rest and let his DJ play some tracks, one of which was the beat for "Get Em High" by Kanye West. The beat came on and everyone really got into it, but for some reason he told his DJ to turn it off, and he never performed it! Unbelievable! He of course performed "Get By," which is possibly his most popular song, one that he almost didn't even perform. He left at one point and came back out for an encore, then started talking about how the crowd was a bit dead (they were) at which point some doofus in the crowd took it upon himself to throw a drink at the stage; he of course promptly exited again. The kid (who was over 21) who did it was quickly found out by everyone in attendance and removed, while the rest of us begged for more Talib. He obliged, only to return to the stage and bring the kid on with him! Apparently he was in a punk rock mood, which was why he threw it, or I guess that's what he told him backstage, who knows. Thank the stars that Talib returned though to do a few more awesome tracks, closing finally with "Hot Thing," for the ladies of course. This was an unbelievable event and I'm just thankful that once in a while I get to go to ridiculous stuff like this.