Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Jasmine Solano's "Turn It Up" Music Video Screening @ Red Bull Space, May 23, 2011

The multitalented Jasmine Solano was the woman of the hour last night at the Red Bull Space, where she premiered her new music video and song called "Turn It Up," featuring rapper Hollywood Holt. The event was a great one but really almost didn't even happen for me. I'm not sure who the people were in charge of putting this thing on but they should probably not be in charge of any more parties. Here's why...

The RSVP situation seemed easy enough, send an email and get a confirmation back. It wasn't until you got to the Red Bull Space that you were alerted to the fact that there was apparently a "general admission" list and VIPs list. This isn't the first event I've gone to that's had both, but every other event with the exception of last night's specified that there were different lists, with ways for you to get VIP or media passes. The people running the list were apparently only allowed to let in VIPs first, so they had a line of about 50 people standing outside waiting to get in, while people would just walk up to them from off the street and walk right in because they were VIP. The funny thing was a bunch of those people weren't even on the list, they arrived with a text message they got from a friend and got right in. The list situation was so stupid that a photographer who was supposed to be on the press list was standing outside for a while waiting to get in. For whatever reason, they finally let me and my friend in, but I don't think they let anyone in that was standing behind us! We get inside, and of course the place isn't anywhere near capacity. This is important because one of the girls running the list outside said they can't let any general admission people in until all the VIPs are in, and they have a lot coming, allegedly. They also said that there would be a "couple hours wait" before they let in general admission. How stupid is that? By the time she said this it was after 9:30PM, which is funny because the event was supposed to start at 9pm and they didn't even open the doors until about ten minutes after that. Also, the event was suppose to end at midnight, so if you have people standing outside for a couple hours that would mean the event would be over by the time you let them in. Ridiculously disorganized planning on their part. If there's a situation where there are a ton of "VIPs" why not just have an event for them instead of letting anyone RSVP to possibly go to the event? Just make it a closed event to the public and everything will be fine. Even at the end of the night there were probably 70 people inside at the most, which sucks because the capacity of the Red Bull Space is about 175 (according to the limits posted on the wall); this means they more than likely didn't let anyone else in but us that was waiting on the line. Now let's actually discuss the goings on inside...

Mixing things up from the beginning was DJ Fresh Direct, getting people in the party mood with a very hip-hop oriented set. The event was sponsored by a new type of Hpnotiq called Harmonie (those guys are clearly excellent spellers) so every cocktail on the drinks list had to have the sweet liquer in it, and they were actually pretty good. After some tunes and dancing the patrons who actually made it inside were told to direct their attention to the back wall, where they had her new music video on the projector. The video for the song "Turn It Up" is a fun party vibe kind of video, which is basically what you would expect after hearing the song. Jasmine and Hollywood have a great on screen chemistry (as well as on stage, as I found out soon after) in the shots where they're together, and Jasmine herself is an NYC party institution, so you would expect nothing but good things from her. After the video finished the hosts of the night took the stage to introduce Hollywood and Jasmine, so they could perform the song. They did a good job, really as best they could with such horrible sounding microphones. I've seen shows at the Red Bull Space before and the sound is always great, so I really have no idea why the mics were so terrible last night. After their duet, Jasmine did her hit song "That's Not It," much to the liking of her fans and friends that were in attendance.

I thought that when she was finished that she would go into a DJ set, but surprisingly she didn't. Instead, her fellow rapper Hollywood jumped on the turntables instead, and really rocked the party. His song selection wasn't nearly as good as Fresh Direct, but the songs were probably more fun to dance to, he even played some old school dancehall reggae! It was great to see Jasmine partying as well, just hanging out with everyone and dancing and having a good time. There were a ton of musicians in attendance to see Ms. Solano's new video: NY club and party goddess Roxy Cottontail, singer Shivonne, Trouble Andrew (of the Trouble Gang) and the guys from Ninjasonik. It was, after everything, a great and very fun event but I just wish that everyone who was on line made it inside (I had a few friends behind me who didn't get in) because there was really no reason why they couldn't be there. It wasn't as poorly organized as a GBH event, but it definitely should have been done much better. Shoutout to Jasmine Solano though, because I'm sure the whole list situation had nothing to do with her.

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.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Snearkerpedia Launch Party @ Good Units, Hudson Hotel, May 17, 2011

Good Units has quickly become my new favorite place, as it would appear that I'm frequenting the basement of the Hudson Hotel quite often in these past few months or so. Last night was the launch party for Sneakerpedia, an online Wiki site (created by Footlocker) for sneaker fiends and regular sneaker wearers alike. The event was put on by the guys from Complex Magazine and they did not disappoint.

I'm a former sneakerhead, so I really wanted to go to the launch party to see how they would approach kicking off the website. They really didn't do much sneaker talking to be honest, there were a few mentions, but besides that it was just a great party. A three hour top shelf open bar made sure no one in attendance left with an empty liver or a sober mind, and the DJs were great. Greg Street started things off, getting the early crowd in the mood for a little bit of partying. From there though is where things really took off...

DJ Clark Kent ("God's favorite DJ") jumped on the wheels of steel after that, and by this point the crowd was packed into both the upstairs and downstairs levels. If you've never heard Clark Kent play, then there is a pretty good chance you've never been out in a club in the city. This guy works a lot, and I've been to parties he's played at many times; keeping this in mind I knew I was in for a treat. A lot of DJs don't really have any crowd awareness, and will pretty much play whatever they want. Now there really isn't anything wrong with this: technically if you're a DJ, you should have a very good awareness of (good) music, so playing whatever you want should work just as well. Clark Kent is a great selector though, and since he knew that this crowd would be a more hip-hop oriented one, he played accordingly. Going from older stuff (Wu-Tang, Biggie Smalls) to newer stuff (Kanye West, Drake) and even playing some Odd Future (YES!!!!!!!). He got a million cool points for playing Yonkers by Tyler the Creator of Odd Future; he even played the song in it's entirety! Needless to say it was a very funfilled set, everyone on the dance floor was having a great time, but then it was time for the special performance by none other than UGK's Bun B.

Bun B as many of you hip-hop people should know, is one half of the Texas duo known as the Underground Kings (or UGK). The other member, rapper Pimp C, passed away in December of 2007. To be completely honest, I was expecting Bun B to come out and do a couple of songs then leave, I was happily mistaken. He legitimately did pretty much all of his hits, even finding time to do his verse from "Big Pimpin" and also doing Pimp C's verse as well. 'The Big Southern Rap Impresario' left no stone unturned, doing his verse from "Give Me That" by Webbie, his track "That's Gangsta," which also features Sean Kingston, and his verse from one of my favorite down south tracks, "Sippin on some Syrup," by the Three-6 Mafia. Bun B is a legitimate legend in the business (20+ years with UGK) and came out and didn't disappoint. The website is www.sneakerpedia.com, so if you are into righteous kicks, you should definitely check it out.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Wish Video and Playback Session @ Samsung Experience, May 12, 2011

Thursdays in New York City are always crazy; overflowing with things to do. Leading up to yesterday I had my mind set on going to a screening for a film called Skateland, then reviewing it today (which is usually the case for advanced screenings) but I got a last minute change of plans from my boys from My Free Concert. They put up an invite to the music video release party for a new Jive artist by the name of Wish, so I thought, instead of going to see a movie, I will go to this music event and do some coverage for my readers. Why not?

The event took place at the Samsung Experience inside the Time Warner Center, which is just a plethora of Samsung inventions, from tablets to HD tvs and computers. Samsung has been on a roll this year, having thrown quite possibly the best party for the year so far, a viewing party for the Final Four that took place at two separate bars. Last night's event was to a smaller scale, but still awesome. Drinks were by Belvedere with mixes inspired by the artist of the night - one of the drinks was called the "Suga Daddy," after the song she does by the same name.

DJ Goldfinger was mixing the tracks, then turned the music down so we could watch the premiere of her new music video, "Feel Ur Beat." The video itself is fun, lots of party scenes and some choreographed dancing, but it's the song really that stands out for me the most. It's basically a rap song, with a bit of a Nicki Minaj feel to it, only delivery wise, not lyrically. This is important to keep in mind, because after the video Wish came out to do a quick 3 song set, here's how it went:

The first song she did was the first music video they showed when we arrived, "Sugar Daddy." It has a bit of a  1960s feel to it, and Wish shows off her singing skills on it. She has quite a strong and beautiful voice, which was in full display for the second song she did, a cover of the song "Jar of Hearts" by Christina Perri. A beautiful break up song that was pretty much completely different from the upbeat and bouncy "Sugar Daddy" track. Her last song was the song of the night, "Feel Ur Beat," which as I mentioned before is a rap song. The three songs were completely different, and did a great job of showing off her versatility. I think that her music is an off-shoot of her persona, which is why I wouldn't want to call her style anything like Lady Gaga. I think with Gaga her music is pretty much pop music, very basic when you consider the great lengths she goes to to look different. Wish has a very unique look too, but her songs are all over the place as well, and she's said herself she doesn't want her music to be put in a box, or in a genre. She just makes what she likes so really it could be anything, and I think she demonstrated that last night. I think she has a great look and a very fun sound, that if marketed right could be the next big thing in music, but for some reason I think Jive Records knows what they're doing, so I'm to say it's only a matter of time!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Karmin @ Best Buy Union Square, May 9, 2011

When my friend introduced me to this duo not more than a month ago, it was because she saw them cover a very particular rap song (and well too) and thought that I would enjoy their rendition. The song of course was "Look At Me Now" by Chris Brown, Busta Rhymes, and Lil Wayne. Busta's verse is old school Bussa Buss, where he is rapping at the speed of light. Karmin's rendition is just as good, with none of the words dropped at all, some are changed of course to make it a bit more radio friendly. I couldn't believe someone was able to reproduce this song with such accuracy and manage to have fun with it like these two, so I decided that after watching this amazing Youtube video (which has eclipsed 11 million hits and counting) I would check out the rest of their songs, covers and originals. Everything is done great, and their covers are so originally done that really the only thing that's similar is the lyrics at the end of the day. These guys are mega talented, which is why when I heard they would be performing at Best Buy's Live series yesterday, I couldn't miss it...

Best Buy in Union Square has a musical series where they have artists come into the store and perform every so often. They've had quite a large amount of people perform in the past (Blitz the Ambassador, John Rich, Panic at The Disco, Wiz Khalifa and many others) but this was actually the only performance that I've made it to, and I was not disappointed. The multitalented Karmin consists of two people, Amy and Nick (now engaged, sorry everyone!), neither of which are actually named Karmin. Amy is the guitar player (acoustic) and lead vocalist (singer and very good rapper) while Nick is the multi-instrumentalist (Keys, trombone and a box he plays like a drum) and background vocals. The talent is there, and judging from their Youtube videos you know the performance ability is there as well, here's how it went:

They reached the stage and started things off with their rendition of "Bad Romance" by the one Lady Gaga. They did a very wide assortment of covers, showing off their pure talent with just those alone: a cover of "Price Tag" by Jessie J, of course "Look At Me Now," and their newest Youtube sensation, "6 Foot, 7 Foot" by Lil Wayne and Cory Gunz. They even took a Twitter request live, and one of their followers asked them to do their rendition of Gnarls Barkley's "Crazy," and they obliged. Honestly had they just done a few covers I feel like all the Karmin fans in attendance would have been right as rain as they say, but that wouldn't make any sense now would it? They did originals like "Inside Out," "Little Bit Crazy," and a new track by the name of "On Your Side," one that they claimed they wrote for The Ellen Show but hadn't really finished by the time the cameras were on them rehearsing it, so they figured they would bless the NY fans with the pretty much finished product.

Karmin's sound is rather refreshing. They are inherently pop music, but more singer/songwriter than the trash you will hear on the radio nowadays. They both play instruments and can both sing (in two party harmony of course) and lead sing Amy has such a fun stage presence that you can pretty much guess what it would be like to talk to her in real life just from watching her perform. I of course figured it out first hand, because they decided after their amazing performance to stay after the show to meet some fans and sign some CDs for people. They actually waited until the very last person on the line to meet them was gone before they actually made their exit; a kindness that is really lacking in today's music world. Karmin are on the road to stardom, from doing covers on Youtube to playing live on The Ellen Show, and I'm all for it. We need more actual talented musicians in this business to offset the 'artists' that are all fluff. Heed the words of Karmin: don't try and fake it, you'll never make it...Well said guys, well said.

Friday, May 6, 2011

A Night of Tequila & Lucha Libre @ Good Units, Hudson Hotel, May 5, 2011

So yesterday was Cinco de Mayo, which of course is Spanish for "drink as much tequila as possible." With that considered I'd been planning on going to this event for a few weeks now, that was until the guys from Rolling Stone Magazine threw a wrench in my plans. They too had a big show on Cinco de Mayo, at the Highline Ballroom, complete with performances by the Cold War Kids! I didn't find out about the show until a couple days before, not like that really would have helped me out much. In the end I decided to go with my gut (and 1800 Tequila) and went to Good Units at Hudson Hotel.

Apparently Hudson Hotel is a great place to drink tequila, considering the fact that less than 2 weeks ago I was downstairs in the basement for a Jose Cuervo event. It was done so well with such awesome decor and such, that I thought that the guys from 1800 sure did have a tough act to follow. They did a very good job though. The layout was awesome, with the upstairs balcony area playing the role of a museum, with displays built to the new limited edition bottles that had Mexican wrestlers on them. They were very well done. There were flyers everywhere, with the specialty cocktails you could order on them, not to mention pictures and huge murals of all these different Mexican wrestlers. Downstairs on the floor level there were bleachers set up for people to sit and watch the show (or the wrestling match, which they also had) that was set up inside a wrestling ring! And the tequila flowed from about 8:30PM to after 1AM, which really is far more tequila that you need, but it's Cinco de Mayo only once a year, thankfully.

The first to perform were a band my friend had been going on and on about, Davila 666. These guys are a punk rock group from Puerto Rico, so really Cinco de Mayo may not actually be their thing, but they rocked the show anyways. Their guitar riffs and drum combos are actually rather simple, but they rock hard, and know the sound their trying to deliver and do it well. I thought they were awesome, all of their stuff is high energy, even their "slower" stuff, and everyone was rocking out. Did I mention they sing in Spanish, because they do. If you think it's hard understanding rock music in English, it's pretty close to incomprehensible in Spanish (that is if you don't speak Spanish). But their music is fun, a throwback to the 90s and early 2000s of that rock/punk fusion. These guys were awesome and put on a great show, even under the confinements of a wrestling ring.

The next act in the ring was Silverio, a Mexican ring announcer, who brought out a couple of Luchadores to wrestle each other. It was pretty entertaining all things considered. I'm not an expert on Mexican wrestling but people were throwing their drinks at the guys. Is that what people do at these matches? At one point a dude hit one of the wrestlers with a drink and the guy who got hit in the ring got mad, and climbed out of the ring! He ended up with a guy over his shoulder, like he was going to body slam him or something! Then he and the other wrestler just left the entire area with the guy and the DJ came back on! It was kind of weird, and hopefully staged...

The last performer up is a DJ/producer by the name of Chico Sonido. This guy is known as the 'Electro Cumbia Kid', clearly because he plays Cumbia with electro beats behind it. The sound becomes a very high paced yet inherently tropical sound that's very easy to dance to. Chico himself couldn't just stand there and was dancing around the ring like a crazy person. At this point I was back upstairs on the balcony section having a seat and just listening to the songs. After a bit I decided to get up and take a look at Chico to see if he was still going crazy, and he was: he had stripped down to only his underwear (after arriving in the ring in basically a suit) and was dancing around some more! I thought he was on drugs when he first started dancing, by this point I was sure of it. I then went back to sit down. After another little while I decided to go against my better judgement, get up AGAIN and see what he was doing. I thought, please God don't like this guy be naked! By this point he was standing on top of the table where his mixer was, his underwear half on-half off, and he was stomping on his sampler with his shoes still on (which he of course didn't remove)! This guy is crazy and a crazy performer, but if you're into this kind of music I would say you'd be into him, he was a bit much for me though.

The event went off without a hitch though. I heard there were a couple of fights but when you give a bunch of people 4+ hours of tequila, a fight or two is an occupational hazard I think. Vice Magazine (the co-party throwers with 1800 Tequila) are masters of throwing events and only added to their legend with their Cinco de Mayo extravaganza. I'm not sure if I will be drinking that much tequila for a while though, I suppose it's good that Cinco de Mayo 2012 is quite some time from now!

Monday, May 2, 2011

FIAT By Night w/ Jamie Lidell and LCD Soundsystem, April 29, 2011

Sorry about how late I am at putting this up, it's been quite an eventful weekend with very little time in between to update until now. Now that the formalities are out of the way, I must review one very special event thrown by the guys from FIAT USA (yes the car company from Italy).

FIAT took over the Deitch Gallery in Tribeca for about a week's worth of really cool events. I was privileged enough to make the guestlist for their FIAT By Night party this past Saturday (which started at 5pm and ended at 10pm). The event space was lovely, with all kinds of FIAT flare and even a few cars actually parked up inside. Free beer (Peroni of course) and wines were on the drink menu as well as passed hors d'oeuvres. The guys from People's Pops were making delicious frozen fruit popsicles (some complete with Amaretto) as well as snow cone cocktails! Lavazza was also making espresso so you could party even after the event was over, but preferably somewhere else! Now on to the music...

First to hit the stage was an artist by the name of Jamie Lidell. I didn't even know he was on the ticket because the main draw for me was the idea that LCD Soundsystem were going to be making some sort of appearance with some sort of musical performance, so I had to see that. With that said, I've never heard of Jamie Lidell, so I've clearly never heard his music. I couldn't possibly judge what it would be from his appearance and accent, hipsterish and British, respectively. When his band (keyboard and drums) started playing what sounded like a 70s soul song, the sound that came out of his mouth was utter bliss. I suppose I could say his singing voice is rather similar to a young Stevie Wonder, and it is brilliant. His first two songs I found myself standing there in awe not even grooving to the tunes because I couldn't believe how amazing this guy sounded live! If you know Jamie Lidell then you've grown accustom to his makeshift beats, electronic soul/funk sound and very soulful voice, if you don't know this guy, you really should get to know him. He touched on a few tunes, like "Multiply," "When I Come Back Around" and "What's The Use." If you know these songs and haven't heard them done live they don't sound the same, they sound exponentially better live, which is crazy when you consider how great they are on record. His performance is very energy based, singing wildly and dancing all over the stage while making really funny faces towards his band members. He even took time out to run through the crowd and sing with a few lucky patrons. At one point he makes a beat from scratch by beatboxing and singing all three parts of a harmony then setting it on a loop using a sampler and mixer he had on stage with him (as well as his laptop), then he proceeded to do a really cool song over the beat he just made, then mix it a little with turntables! Not doing too much, but at the same time showing just how talented this guy is, he's not just a guy with a great voice. I would love to see this guy play a regular set somewhere because of course this one was a short one (about 5 or 6 tracks) and he is just flat out awesome. Quite possibly the best new-to-me artist I've seen since Beyond This Point's performance last year. Amazing, a definite must see.

After Mr. Lidell turned the energy in the room all the way up, it was time for the boys Pat Mahoney and James Murphy to take the stage and start spinning some party tunes. It was then I'd realized that I was a pretty lucky person, hanging out at a ridiculously awesome event just dancing and jamming out to great tunes spun by Murphy and Mahoney, who played pretty much until the end of the night. They didn't use Serato either like some of today's "DJs," they actually mixed records, and MIXED them too not just turned on a song then turned it off to start a new song, these guys can actually juggle, but I suppose that's not really surprising. Their musical selection was also awesome, which I suppose is to also be expected. After the entire event was over James Murphy was still hanging around outside, talking to some of the people who attended it and happily snapping photos with fans. I'm not sure this event could have been done any better by FIAT, especially considering they kept the amount of people to a good level as to not have the place be packed like a sardine can. All in all it was a brilliant show and I'm very much looking forward to the summer for more things like this!