Friday, June 10, 2011

FlashFWD 20II @ Gramercy Theatre, June 8, 2011

SOUNDCTRL to Major Tom! Your boy is back with a new review (finally). This one comes from the middle of Internet Week, and was presented by SOUNDCTRL and Fuse TV, called FlashFWD II. It's essentially an award ceremony for companies making an impact on the future of music through different types of technologies, which of course is why they would have such a ceremony during Internet Week. I wouldn't be covering this event for you guys if of course, they didn't have some artists perform, and you bet they did!

Now before we get into the artists, let's discuss the confusion with this event. First of all, the ticket says it starts at 7PM. That's not a big deal right? That is until you take into consideration that the flyer says the award ceremony starts at 8:30PM, and the actual performances start at 10:30PM. The flyer also makes a mention to the open bar (which was sponsored by Corona and Absolut). So we decide that since this is a bit confusing, we will get there around 8PM, so there is really no way we could be wrong on both the flyer and the ticket. We got there around then, and decided to go somewhere and get a bite to eat. Again, everything seems to be fine so far. We get back to the entrance of Gramercy Theatre at about 8:30PM only to find out that "the place is at capacity right now for the awards, and they will be reopening the doors at 10PM." Awful. So we then decided to kill sometime and return to line up and wait to get in, in the 90 degree scorching heat that was Wednesday night. When we finally get in, at minutes to 10:30PM, apparently the open bar was only until 10PM, and it started at 7PM. Ohhh! Now it makes sense! Oh well, no big deal, I was there for the music anyway; it wasn't really until the last minute that I even found out there might have been free drinks, so I wasn't really stressing about it.

One good thing about these guys though was that they were on time. The host came on stage and announced the first act, Break Science, at 10:30PM on the dot! That was nice of them to not keep the patrons waiting. Break Science are a musical producer duo that consists of a DJ and a drummer, and they play home-made remixes of songs that people know and perform it live, with said drummer putting up the back ground beats. It's actually a really cool recipe for awesome sounding music, remix songs everyone likes then add some more bassline to it; sounds good to me. They made songs more like techno, more hip-hop, and even turned a couple hip-hop tracks into dubstep. Yay Dubstep! This was great because I happened to be in the venue with my dance crew FireCry, and we LOVE dubstep; it's awesome music to dance to.

After they rocked it they brought out a band and a DJ and the DJ started playing some party tracks. He asked us, "Are you guys ready for Ryan Leslie?" Everyone cheered. We however didn't, we knew he wasn't coming out: When I showed up to the venue Mr. Leslie was just arriving. Nice, showing up early and hanging out, or so we thought. By the time we were standing on line waiting to get in at around 9:30PM, Ryan exited Gramercy and got in the SUV that brought him there; it then drove off. Needless to say, the next act on stage was Pusha T...

Pusha T is the Bronx born Virginia based rapper who represents one-half of the rap duo Clipse, with his brother Malice. Pusha is riding a new wave of popularity since he got mixed up with the one Kanye West and his GOOD Music record label. Even though he hasn't released any albums under the label yet, he's dropped quite a few singles and we can expect an album forthcoming. With that said, Pusha's got a few hits, but like I've mentioned before, it takes quite a bit for a rapper to perform and actually make me say that he's a good performer. Having said that, Pusha T is awesome live! Let's analyze this...

He has the on-stage antics down pat: great breathing so he doesn't miss any lyrics, lot's of energy, crowd interaction, and quite possibly the best rapper "lean back" I've ever seen in real life! Pusha's rap style is essentially southern, but with a northern twist, and his topics? Well his name is Pusha, so, it's about drugs, more specifically coke. He's been rapping about cocaine for as long as I've known of him, even back when he was in the Clipse, but he's somehow managed not to make it monotonous. Just about every rapper has rapped about growing up in a rough neighborhood and "hustling" to make money, but I'm not sure if they've managed to mention drugs for as long as Pusha has, and definitely not as well as he has.

He went through a bunch of songs, touching on his big tracks with Kanye ("So Appalled" and "Runaway") and even took some time out to do my jam "Grinding," which of course is a song he did when he was with Clipse. For the most part though Pusha was concerned with people hearing his new stuff from his newest mixtape "Fear of God," which has quite a few great tracks on it. He went through quite a few of them, like "Cook It Down," and my personal favorite "Open Your Eyes," which was produced by Nottz and features a sample of the great Queen song "Bohemian Rhapsody." He also did "Feeling Myself" unrehearsed, a fun party track that features singer/songwriter Kevin Cossom. He closed his amazing energy filled performance with "My God," and left the crowd hyped up for Ryan Leslie to close, and left at least one blogger (myself) in awe at how amazing of a live performer this guy is. If you get a chance to see a Pusha T show, please do so, if you're a fan of hip-hop you won't regret it.

Now Pusha T was backed by a band AND a DJ. This of course added to the awesomeness of his performance. It was only right though, because multi-instrumentalist, rapper, singer, songwriter, producer, and musical ninja Ryan Leslie was about to take the stage. Lucky for us he had a tough act to follow. He did pretty well though!

They brought out a piano and a couple extra keyboards in anticipation for the music genius to arrive. He started on the piano and began playing a song, and softly serenaded the crowd with "I Choose You," which of course erupted into a full out production where he jumped up from his seat at the piano and started jamming out. He of course utilized all instruments before him, as you would guess. Ryan Leslie is a true musician, a musician's musician if you will. He has a sort of Prince talent but a vibe not unlike Ray Charles (he always wears sunglasses and makes gestures sort of like Ray did). He has plenty of videos up on Youtube where he shows himself making many of his famous tracks, with possibly his most famous video being the making of his hit song "Addiction," which he of course performed on Wednesday night. He called out singer Mr. Hudson so they could do their track "Breathe," which of course had a big finish with Mr. Hudson showing off that he has a little bit of instrument manipulation himself, by playing the drums while Ryan did the verses. The main background music was coming from Ryan's DJ, who bore a striking resemblance to rapper Tinie Tempah (it wasn't him). Needless to say, I was quite captivated by his performance; seeing him live is like seeing three or four really good musicians at once. He performed "Beautiful Lie," and finished strong as well with his big track "Diamond Girl." I thought it was a great performance, I however was told otherwise...

I spoke to a friend of mine afterwards who was rather disappointed with his performance. Apparently he usually performs with what can only be described as an "amazing band," but on Wednesday night he was on stage alone with his DJ. This apparently was not acceptable to a few people in the audience, who'd come to know Ryan as an amazing performer who is out of this world live. I've never seen him perform prior to Wednesday, and like I said I thought he was amazing, which is great because apparently when I see him REALLY do his thing I'm in for a treat. I suppose I now have something more to look forward to! FlashFWD was an awesome show and I'm sure the award ceremony went off without a hitch. Internet week has been a fun one indeed and I'm really looking forward to upcoming shows this summer.

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