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 I’m a virgin, but I’m 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 Youth’s “Pass the
Dutchie” lyrics), then took it back to ’98 with “Joints & Jam,” mixing in Terror
Squad’s “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.,
who’s Filipino, followed, draped with the Philippine flag and rapping in Tagalog.
On “Labor Day (It’s 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, “Don’t Phunk With My
Heart”; the Peas finished with “Let’s Get It Started” — already warming
up for their October 21 show at the Hollywood Bowl?

—Ben Quiñones

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. It’s about to be a live day!

12:30 — New York–based 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 ain’t one!” Beef on wax is back!

6:55 — Hiero, y’all!!! 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 “That’s 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 weren’t
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 ain’t 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.

—Jacqueline Whatley

GOLDSPOT
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 Radiohead’s acoustic
yearnings, the Smiths’ smarty-pop, clean ’n’ cultured arrangements and main
man Siddhartha’s eyelids-fluttering vibrato. No need for excessive volume or
muso wanking: The songs, the players’ musicality and Siddhartha’s mildly melodramatic
Orbison timbre are the factors that’ve packed this room.

Afroed, bespectacled drummer Ramy Antoun mutes his kit with a sheet, personifying
Goldspot’s team mentality along with the bearded and bobbing emo-enthusiasm
of guitarist Derrick Horst, the miss-’em-when-they’re-gone bass lines of Sergio
Andrade, the trim grooves of Antoun and the keyboard contributions of Seth McLain.
Tufty-haired Siddhartha’s gesticulating antics and gaping cajolery aren’t for
everyone, but he’s a true front man in an otherwise visually neutral band.

Though “Motorcade,” with its acoustic brush and insinuating vocal, isn’t an
obvious opener, Goldspot aren’t 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.

—Paul Rogers