Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Giant Step Double Header @ Le Bain, July 25, 2011

So I went to Le Bain last night, technically it was twice in one day. Well, not really, it was only once, but it was for two separate events thrown by the same music loving company by the name of Giant Step. It was really back to back events that were held at the exact same space, which is the first time I’ve ever heard of anyone doing that, but it was a lot of fun anyway. I suppose it’s hard NOT to have fun in Le Bain, so Giant Step probably thought, let’s just have everything here, all in one day.

Event number one for the night was a mini Melanie Fiona showcase. Now I’d been to a showcase at Le Bain (also thrown by Giant Step) before, but I didn’t actually see the performance because I was outside on the balcony area, but I could hear it. It wasn’t until last night that I actually saw how they set up the inside of Le Bain for performances. They make them pretty much perform on the couches surrounding the indoor pool. Doesn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense but, whatever works I guess. I understand the allure of Le Bain (it’s the best place in NYC to party, bar none) but it’s not the best place to have a live performance. I would imagine it would have been cheaper for the guys from Giant Step to find a different venue with a better stage setup., but I’m never going to complain about drinking for free at Le Bain.

If you don’t know Melanie Fiona she’s an R&B artist with a fine live voice, as I found out last night. She also has a lot of dedicated fans, who stood outside in the rain waiting to get in for at least an hour (it took me an hour and a half to get in!). The entire event was well worth it though, because she’s a consummate professional, and I almost missed the entire performance because I was yet again outside when it was happening. It gets really packed inside for these Giant Step events so I decided to retreat to the outdoors for some chill and drink time, only to find out that she was performing inside. I ran back inside to catch the tail end of her performance, which is why I’m not mentioning the songs she did, I didn’t hear them! I did hear her do one song, and it was good enough for me to make the statement that she sounds great live.

After she was all finished up, they went straight into the second event, a party DJed by the one and only DJ Spinna, who is a phenomenal house DJ. House music for me is the most fun music one can dance to, and it’s great because you don’t have to be really awesome at house dancing to dance to it. The beats are always really catchy and a good house DJ usually mixes in all kinds of music with it to keep the vibe going (Breakbeats, disco, old school hip-hop, etc.). DJ Spinna is a great house DJ, and everyone was dancing, literally EVERYONE. And it was a very mixed up crowd as well, from young people to people 20 years my senior, just jamming out. I had to get to work today so I had to leave early, but I really didn’t want to, but such is Le Bain, upon entering you never actually want to leave that place. EVER. Check out Giant Step for more awesome events.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Tego Calderon @ The Spot, July 15, 2011

Well well readers. What did you this weekend?! That's a little inside joke, the answer in nothing. I did a whole lot of that this past weekend. Starting with Friday night, when I hit up "The Spot" for another Heineken event: a performance by reggaeton superstar Tego Calderon.

Heineken has been doing what they could to make up for that Kanye West event. Case in point: this past week I drank free Heineken on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday! It sounds a bit ridiculous, but it's quite true: Wednesday: Heineken event @ GunBar; Thursday: Thursday Night Live @ John Varvatos; Friday: Tego Calderon; Saturday: Philipino event @ the Jungle Design Space. Good stuff if you ask me.

So when I got to Friday's Heineken event, which was at an art space called Openhouse Gallery, on Mulberry. It's a pretty nice space with decent space to accommodate a good amount of people. But not THAT good, as I found out later in the night, more on that later. Heineken has a whole bunch of Latin music related shows this summer, and if you look at the link on the flyer above you'll find a way for you to RSVP for their upcoming shows (can't say I never gave you anything).

So I get in and the place is set up nicely, as one would expect. Those guys from Heineken are quite good at making decor look very nice for their events. They give you a wristband when you're coming in, as you would expect, except for some reason this particular wristband had two little buttons on it. These removable buttons represented all the free drinks you get. Two beers?! All night?! It's crazy I know but they're throwing so many of these events it's a wonder they're giving away any free beer at all.

The DJ who's name currently escapes me was playing all kinds of house, techno, and Latin hits, getting people in the mood for partying. I had my bookbag with me, coming from work, and they didn't check it, which made me think I really should have snuck in some booze. Don't worry, I figured out something. =) The vibes were right and everyone is having a good time. The event started at 8pm and was scheduled to go until midnight, and the rumor was that Tego would take the stage at 11pm. Not too bad I thought. At some point however, a few people who worked for Heineken went on to the stage to talk to the DJ. It was about 10:30PM when this happened. He turned the music down to make an announcement, in English: asking for 35 volunteers to leave the venue, because the place was over capacity! Unbelievable right?! This is even more ridiculous when you consider this: the day before the show, Heineken sent out an email to everyone who was on their mailing list, saying there were 50 more spots available for the Tego show. I went onto their website and immediately signed up a friend of mine who didn't make it on the list before (she didn't end up going anyways) and thought, yea now she can go. So, you guys didn't know the capacity of the venue? Unreal...it's always one step forward then two steps back with the former kings of the Party. On to the show...

Let me be the first to say that I am conversational in Spanish. Having said that, I can only pick up a few words when it's being spoken at regular speed, a speed that sounds very fast to non-Spanish speakers. So one can assume, that when Tego took the stage and performed all of his hits, that I didn't really understand what he was saying for the most part! I will also be the first to admit, that I'm not the biggest fan of reggaeton at all. With both of those things considered though, I had a great time at this event. Tego is a great performer who, if you like partying, will move you whether you know what he's saying or not. It's hard not to like a guy who took time out of his busy schedule of rocking on stage, to go into the crowd and party with some of the (drunk) patrons on hand. I'm not very familiar with his songs, so I'm willing to say that he did "all of his hits" judging from the crowd roars every time he went into a different track. Besides a couple notable tunes he has with Don Omar, he pretty much did everything you'd like if you were a big fan of talented Puerto Rican star. I would advise following the link on the flyer above if you'd like to partake in any of the upcoming shows, that will all be at the same spot in downtown Manhattan. Good work Heineken.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Sounds Like Paper @ House of Vans, July 6, 2011

So the guys from Paper Magazine through their issue release party at the new awesome hangout spot in Brooklyn, the House of Vans. This particular party, which has come to be known as “Sounds like Paper,” was supposed to be a showcase of the 3 people that have graced their newest cover: Swizz Beats, Joe Jonas, and Santigold. Unfortunately, our friend Santigold didn’t show up. She wasn’t originally billed for the show but then her name was added at the last minute. Apparently it was even too last minute for her, as she was a no show. Besides that though, the show was excellent.

It was supposed to be “door at 7pm,” which normally means you get there early and just wait for no reason and they don’t let people in until like 20 minutes later. Apparently that’s something that Paper Magazine does often, to make sure their people get in first. A lot of the people standing on line had never been to the House of Vans before, so they were asking about how big the place was. I, having been there a couple weeks ago, told them that they had nothing to fear, the place could easily hold over 1000 people.

When we finally got in everyone ran to the bar, because the beers were free, courtesy of Corona. They also had the  Ben & Jerry Truck inside giving away free icecream, but there was nothing in the line of free food, like the flyer said. On to the show…

Joe Jonas came on first, to some very loud screams from the young female patrons that were up at the VERY front. I’m not very familiar with his stuff (no surprise there), but despite how I feel about the Jonas Brothers they are quite talented. He’s gone solo, but his stuff still sounds teenie bopper poppy, so I guess if you’re into the Jonas sound then you would probably enjoy his short 4 song performance. But I’m guessing that if you’re a Jonas Bros. fan that you’re probably not reading my blog!

After a quick intermission of music from the DJ they introduced Swizz Beats and his band. Now I wanted to go to the show specifically for Swizzy, not because I’m a huge fan of his (because I guess I am) but because I wanted to know what a  performance of his would be like. Swizz Beats as many of you may know is a rap producer, who started off making beats for the DMX and the Ruff Ryders. He’s not a rapper, but he does do the chorus on many of the songs that he produces, so I was wondering whether he would just have a performance of choruses. He did…

But don’t let that statement fool you, his performance was full of energy, and actually lots of fun. Even I had forgotten how many songs he’s made the beats to, but he managed to touch on just about everything. He went from Ruff Ryders tracks like the “Ruff Ryder Anthem” and “Party Up” (both DMX tracks) to some Jay-Z stuff like “Jigga My N*gga” and “Money, Cash, Hoes.”

It was like listening to your favorite rap DJ just play a bunch of hot and fun songs while Swizz just did the chorus, then they would move on to a different track. He does have a couple tracks of his own that he did, like “Money In The Bank” and “Everyday,” which features rapper Eve. But for the most part it was a Swizz Beats greatest hits (or hooks really!) performance. They played “Swing Your Rag” by TI, “Who’s Real” by Jadakiss, “Fancy” by Drake, and “My Drink and my Two Step” by his artist Cassidy. It was surely a very fun performance if you enjoy a really fun performance DJ like I do. Weirdly enough, “So Apalled” wasn’t on the menu last night, but it didn’t really matter, everyone was already hot and sweaty by the time he was ready to exit the stage. And then, randomly, Carmelo Anthony showed up! He didn’t rap, he just came on stage, waived at everyone, then left. It was random, but kind of cool.

The event was abruptly over after that, with the people at House of Vans turning the lights on shortly after he exited the stage. It was a good show, even with the absence of Santigold, even with me posting on my Facebook  that I was at a private Swizz Beats and Santigold show, which of course was only half right! It was a great time though, but I’m starting to suspect that good times are in store for the summer at the House of Vans.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Album Review: Ayo the Nigerian Nightmare - Delusions of Grandeur

My first album review! I'm pretty excited. Here goes: a good friend of mine asked me to review this album because the person in question, Ayo, is his artist. That being said, I will give a fair and just review, I owe it to my readers don't I?

Ayo is a Nigerian born and NY based rapper and spoken word poet. That's right folks, he does poetry as well. You shouldn't forget this because if you don't like poetry or spoken word performers, you probably will not like a lot of this album. This is because there are a few tracks on the album that are Ayo doing his poetry thing, and they are, if you're into that, some of the really stellar parts of the album. For instance, the track "Folasade" was one of my favorites; a very melodic and hypnotizing track was the backdrop for Ayo's ode to his first love by the name of Folasade. His wordplay really comes out in his spoken word and definitely in this track.

The album starts off with a very funny audio from a little movie called "Coming to America." Fitting I thought, because everyone loves that movie, and it's a great part of the film. From there we get right into the music with back to back tracks featuring Omni Blaize, "Dreams" and "She's Leaving," respectively. Both good tracks, but "Dreams" is my favorite of the two; what can I say, I like the beat more. On "Tales of the Forgotten" he starts off the story telling by giving a shout out to rapper Immortal Technique, who I went to High School with of course. Felipe whatup?!

The next track is "To The End Of Time," which actually features my friend who asked me to review the album in the first place, Areckless Mind (clearly not his real name). Now although this beat is super sick, I wasn't a fan of the deliveries of both rappers, and I definitely didn't like the chorus on the song. The lyrics are there but I felt like both rappers were going faster than the beat, if that makes sense? It was right around here that I thought that maybe really slow beats weren't really Ayo's thing. Well time would tell...

Up next was another great spoken word track, "Reflections on Race from an Outsider's Perspective." Not much secrets here, I'm sure you can guess what that one is about! The next track as a good one, "Bright Lights" featuring L05 on the hook. Again I felt like maybe the beat was too slow for him, and he was kind of ahead of it again. It's a good song but if he rode the beat better it would have been splendid. The next song is "Groove" and truthfully this is my least favorite song on the album. It seems like he attempted making a kind of club banger song here but falls short, and I found it twice as annoying because the album has such a poetic feel to it that I felt like maybe he was reaching here with this song.

I won't talk about everything on the album, but asside from the tracks I mentioned, other standouts for me are "Bad Men" and "It's the Nigerian Nightmare" featuring Louise Browne. Both have great beats, with the latter having the better one, but he really shows off his flow and lyrical wordplay on both tracks. I wanted to see more stuff like this on the album because they're really good songs. "Excess Baggage" represents the best spoken word track on the whole album, with the chorus sung by Shelly Bhushan. His words (he reminds us that baggage makes planes and relationships sink) in conjunction with the vocals of Ms. Bhushan make an excellent poetic track. I think that this track would be great to people who don't even really like spoken word, because this is just flat out great. He finishes with a song called ""Thin line between love and hate," which features a quite famous track (I won't say which one!) and he cruises it to near perfection. All in all it's a good album, and I'm willing to give it 3.5 out of 5 because it has some great stuff, but other stuff just could have been better. But really you shouldn't take my word for it, the album is available for FREE at Ayo's website: ayoinmotion.com/. I say check it out and listen for yourself.