Live in LA
|Photos by Wild Don Lewis|
THE BLACK EYED PEAS, TALIB KWELI
at the Greek, July 28
On this warm summer night, Talib Kweli came out casual, sportin a white NY cap and big black shades. Once part of Black Star with Mos Def, Kweli led his own rap tribe (a DJ and two female backup singers), igniting the night with cool cuts like The Blast, Get By and the old-school B-Boy/Girl jam We Got the Beat.
With actor Laurence Fishburne and tons of screaming teenage girls in the crowd, the Black Eyed Peas, fronting a live four-man band, launched a high-energy show with Hey Mama. Fergie (Stacy Ferguson) hung an Angels rally monkey (new album: Monkey Business) from her pants; her ass-shaking got the rally going. Taboo (Jaime Gomez), in white shades and a bright white suit, explained, I dressed in white to act like Im a virgin, but Im not! apl.de.ap (Allen Pineda) flaunted green shades and a Mohawk; will.i.am (William Adams) wore an orange Bing Crosby hat with a matching shirt and tie. The Peas pushed the funky reggae jams Smells Like Funk and Dum Diddy (with Musical Youths Pass the Dutchie lyrics), then took it back to 98 with Joints & Jam, mixing in Terror Squads Lean Back. Just returned from a Canadian tour, the Peas were happy to be home: Nosotros somos DE LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, declared Taboo, unfurling a Mexican flag. I was born in East L.A. y qué cabrónes! a.p.l., whos Filipino, followed, draped with the Philippine flag and rapping in Tagalog. On Labor Day (Its a Holiday), the Peas busted into break dancing, will.i.am spinning windmills; later he pulled out a huge cell phone, encouraging everyone to follow suit, and the Greek lit up like a galaxy as the crowd sang Where Is the Love?
The encore included the hottest song on the radio today, Dont Phunk With My Heart; the Peas finished with Lets Get It Started already warming up for their October 21 show at the Hollywood Bowl?
ROCK THE BELLS FEST
at the NOS Events Center, Riverside, July 30
12:05 The humid air smells of kush & Coors Light. The crowd must be over 500 hop-fiends deep. The Stones Throw MCs (MED, Percee P, Oh No and Wildchild) kick hot, hyping the crowd to a fare-thee-well with Take Me Back and a number of impressive freestyles. Its about to be a live day!
12:30 New Yorkbased freestyle emperor Supernatural blesses the sweaty crowd with his famous verbal obstacle course, borrowing random objects from audience members to create individual rhymes about each this time 20 bars about clitorises, wheelbases and heartbeats. Dayum, this cat can rhyme about anything!
5:50 The most slept-on artist in hip-hop, Sage Francis, rocked the damn bellswith the diss, We like 99 rappers, but Jay-Z aint one! Beef on wax is back!
6:55 Hiero, yall!!! When it seemed the show could get no better, it did. Cali MCs Hieroglyphics showed us their souls when they kicked the hits You Never Knew, Life Is a Blast and Thats When Ya Lost. Lyricism at its finest.
10:30 The backstage lounge area was littered with recycled video vixens, glassy-eyed and pissy drunk. Philly blunts were passed, Hennessy flowed and smiles were exchanged. A sudden hush came over the bevy of B-Boys backstage when the word was heard: They shootin. . . . Aww, made you look, you a slave to a page in my rhyme book! Nas was definitely in the building! Festivalgoers who werent already in the pit swarmed toward the stage 1,000 heads bobbing, 1,000 hands in the air; this was hip-hop euphoria.
11:45 Ghostface, RZA and Raekwon emerged from the opaque scrim as the familiar violin section and sound of bees buzzing crept in: Wu-Tang Clan aint nuttin to fuck wit! Mayhem.
12:30 The show closed with a freestyle cypher of MCs MCs Kweli, SuperNat, Nas and others. But just when we thought it was over . . . out ran KRS-One, yelling South Bronx, the south-south Bronx! History was made.
at the Troubadour, July 26
Goldspot are a true phenomenon: a local band, signed to a start-up indie label, who fill the Troubadour tonight and leave a line outside even as they take the stage. After they endured L.A.s soul-eroding amateur club circuit for five years, everything changed for Goldspot with the release this year of Tally of the Yes Men and the KCRW airplay that followed.
A triumph of quality over fashion, Goldspot are a collage of Radioheads acoustic yearnings, the Smiths smarty-pop, clean n cultured arrangements and main man Siddharthas eyelids-fluttering vibrato. No need for excessive volume or muso wanking: The songs, the players musicality and Siddharthas mildly melodramatic Orbison timbre are the factors thatve packed this room.
Afroed, bespectacled drummer Ramy Antoun mutes his kit with a sheet, personifying Goldspots team mentality along with the bearded and bobbing emo-enthusiasm of guitarist Derrick Horst, the miss-em-when-theyre-gone bass lines of Sergio Andrade, the trim grooves of Antoun and the keyboard contributions of Seth McLain. Tufty-haired Siddharthas gesticulating antics and gaping cajolery arent for everyone, but hes a true front man in an otherwise visually neutral band.
Though Motorcade, with its acoustic brush and insinuating vocal, isnt an obvious opener, Goldspot arent hurrying, secure in their songcraft. This is stand-and-listen stuff, and most here know the material well enough to mouth the words. Not remotely dangerous or overtly sexy, Goldspot nevertheless reel off mark-making melodies like some undiscovered jukebox: the Casio loop and lonely guitar of Cusp; the subtle, shivering rebellion of Friday; and girlies favorite The Guard daydream doodles and reverbed regret between tragi-nostalgic pirouettes of carnival organ.
Goldspot save the distant, insistent Rewind and the unison optimism of Time Bomb till last, their point thoroughly made: L.A. bands can still build a following with great tunes and authentic performances.
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