Saturday, November 17, 2012

Wobble on the Bricks / November 16, 2012 / The Union

By: Kyle Rutherford, Staff Writer

On a cold night in Athens, The Union was heated up by bass music and the sweat of many satisfied attendees. The latest edition of Dave Rave’s Wobble on the Bricks hosted a variety of talent from all across the state.

The first DJ to grace the stage was Kingpin of Columbus. Having played the Athens DUB101 spot this past April, it was obvious he would bring a diverse set. True to his name, the capital city DJ performed with a bowling pin at the front of his setup.

Much of his set didn’t rely on bass music, but sort of up-tempo stuff. There were disco-sounding tracks, but also a bit of trap music. The variety was a good match for the beginning of the night. Shout out to James Castrillo for wearing a tie and cardigan while he played. Classy!

Columbus' Magua played a very heavy set. The beginning of his set started out pretty glitchy, but varied through dubstep and a bit of trap. Magua is a very exciting DJ to watch, in that he practically balls up energy behind the decks and throws it back at the crowd. He jumps and throws down to songs, works the mic and is just an overall fun person to dance to. Kudos.

Out of Cleveland, Thunder St. Clair brought yet another heavy set. Having killed it while opening for Crizzly back in April, it was pretty much impossible not to get him back ASAP. He definitely didn’t disappoint, mixing behind clean bass music, grimey dubstep and upbeat trap music. The talented and experienced DJ was downright fantastic in his mixing and song choice. Plus, the lucky dude gets to open for Zeds Dead next Wednesday.

Last out was Ohio University student DJ Paulo. According to Dave Rave, he is a student from China via Brazil. Much of the beginning of his set began with glitch and a little bit of moombahton. But as his set wore on, a few dubstep songs were added in. All of this was very minimal compared to the remaining drum n’ bass & drumstep that was played.

His music soaked up all remaining energy by show attendees, even with his somewhat different style of mix ins/outs. The only problem was a friend of his acting as a sort of MC. It was cool in that it kind of gave you the feel of an underground Los Angeles or London DNB club, but the man occasionally went a bit over the top.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Killer Mike / November 12, 2012 / The Union

By: Ross Lockhart, Staff Writer

Tickets were 12 bucks, and despite my honest recommendations, no one could be persuaded to go with me. Fuck it, I thought. I never ride solo. It’ll be a character-building exercise. I bought my ticket ahead of time, which I thought would ensure an opportunity to buy drinks at the bar. Doors were at eight, so I rolled up to The Union at a quarter past nine thinking that the action would be starting relatively soon. All my preemptive measures proved to be for nothing. The guys at the door asked for my ID, and I gravely told them I was underage. No 21+ wristband. All wasn’t lost, I hoped. Maybe the dude working the bar wouldn’t notice.

I walked up to the counter, two dollars in my hand and a fat “how’s it going, man?” look on my face. The bartender reciprocated my warm greeting and asked me what I would like. 
"One PBR please."
"Can I see your wristband?" he asked kindly. My heart sank. 
"Oh, uh… I didn’t get one." He was nice about it, and politely told me that he couldn’t sell me drinks if I didn’t bear the mark of a 21-year-old. I was embarrassed. This was basically my worst nightmare turned reality. I thanked him anyway and retreated to the back of the bar, where I sat and thought angry thoughts about the government for a few minutes. When my internal hissy fit was over, I decided that if I wasn’t going to get drunk, I may as well take advantage of my forced sobriety and drain every little detail out of my surroundings.

I’m groomed to believe that liking hip-hop involves a certain amount of nerdiness, but looking around, I felt like the biggest goober in the room. I desperately scanned for someone lamer than me so I could displace my self-consciousness onto them. The bartender came over and asked if I wanted a soda. Fuck no I don’t want a soda. I don’t drink soda, thanks. I’m not fucking 12. How degrading. I had hit an emotional rock bottom. Some other nerdy dudes walked in. Thank God. Like any normal human being, I judged the shit out of them to make myself feel better.

After an eternity of sitting alone at the bar, eavesdropping on everyone’s conversations like an asshole, the Dysfunktional Family took the stage to get the crowd pumped up. I was impressed. They had commanding stage presence and energy. The ladies were digging it. Looking up at those dudes, surrounded by a mob of goofy-looking white people steadily bouncing their middle fingers up and down, I came to a realization. The hip-hop scene in Athens, small as it may seem, reaches out far beyond the walls of a small-town bar. The Dysfunktional Family is made up of people who, like in a real family, support and love each other unconditionally. It’s all about community and brotherhood. They truly could give a shit about what people on the outside think about them and their scene. It’s the people inside it that matter. At that moment I stopped feeling like such an alien and more like a privileged guest. Everything was going to be okay. I was a part of something special, even if just for a night.  

Of course, once the music stopped and The Dysfunkt Fam wrapped its set, the familiar pangs of isolation returned. This time, though, it was kind of funny. I laughed it off. A beaming Hil Hackworth stepped off stage. I gave him a tearfully limp handshake and a “that was sick, man.” He thanked me and continued to the bar, leaving me alone with myself. I walked in little circles pretending to have a purpose for about 10 minutes.

There was one more guy to perform before Killer Mike. He was wearing an Atlanta Falcons beanie. I forget his real name, so I’ll just call him Mr. Meanie Beanie. He was alright, but I’ll say that his flow was weak compared to Hil and Schwartz. Those dudes set the bar pretty damn high. By then the crowd had grown to a decent size and everyone could barely keep their anticipatory boners down. Mr. Meanie Beanie knew the score. He wrapped it up before everyone got too bored. Without further intermission, Killer Mike burst on stage.

He was a big motherfucker. Even bigger than I had expected. He immediately set it off with his explosive verse from R.A.P. Music opener, “Big Beast.” Fuck yes! Everyone went nuts. He was rapping so fast and so hard I couldn’t believe it. His eyes were red. I felt his anger. His passion. I stood frozen to the spot, too terrified to move. This was only the first song. Holy shit! The song came to an abrupt end. A toothy grin emerged from beneath his jungle of a beard. Suddenly he wasn’t so scary after all. He gave a heartfelt monologue honoring the people of Ohio.

“I’m in the Midwest now, where people work their asses off. For six years I worked MY ass off to get here. There’s no place I’d rather be.”

He couldn’t have chosen his words any better. The crowd went berserk and he unleashed a volley of songs like a fucking machine gun. Each was more intense than the last. I was dumbstruck. It felt like I was being physically attacked and I was loving every minute of it. He gracefully wiggled across the stage like a circus elephant. Someone passed him a blunt and it disappeared after one mighty puff. When he stoically invited us to join the political party of “I don’t give a fuck” to segue into his government-bashing hit “Reagan,” I found myself joining a sinister chorus of “Fuck Ronald Reagan!” To hear that song on the album is one thing, but to experience it first-hand and feel the hatred and damnation in his words was nothing short of visceral. Had I died and gone to heaven? I may or may not have came in my pants.

Unfortunately, contrary to what everyone in attendance (including myself) may have thought, Killer Mike is only a man. After a scathing a cappella rendition of “Go!” there was a crack in his voice. A collective gasp echoed through the room. The big guy had gone and overdone it. Wounded, but far from dead, he kept on going, even harder than before. This brought the crowd into even more of a frenzy. I winced as his vocal cords strained and splintered. Sweat ejaculated from his big chocolatey brow. Never before had I been witness to such conviction. At last, he just couldn’t go any longer. He wiped his soggy face with a towel and swung it over his shoulders like a heavyweight boxer. This was a knockout victory, not a defeat. His shirt was soaked through save for a lonely spot on his belly. I felt as though I should bow or something . He was Jesus, but better.  

It was all over. I floated to the stage. He knelt down and took my trembling hand in his. I was a child. “Thank you,” I whispered. Through his sunglasses his eyes sparkled and said, “Thank YOU, Ross Lockhart.” I blushed. He disappeared. I stumbled out of The Union in a daze. The people who had been my brothers and sisters for the brevity of the show stood around, smoking. I took a drag of the night air. It was pure and clean. I walked home in the dark, listening to the streets of Athens sing their old songs as the stars smiled down at me.  

Saturday, November 3, 2012

She Bears, Indigo Wild & Deadwood Floats / November 2, 2012 / Casa Cantina

By: Nadia Kurtz, Staff Writer

When I heard Indigo Wild would be performing at Casa Cantina, my Friday night plans were set. Also performing would be Deadwood Floats and She Bears. A nice night of folk/indie rock was just what I needed.

After I had committed to going to the show, Indigo Wild cancelled due to an illness. Needless to say, I was devastated. I went to the show anyway, and even though some adjustments had to be made, the night was an overall success.

When Deadwood Floats took the stage, the crowd at Casa was pretty dull. Everyone there was just sitting and chatting, seemingly oblivious to the fact that a band was about to perform. When the five-piece band struck their first note, however, heads turned and all attention was on them.

With two guitars, a drum set, ukelele and accordion, Deadwood Floats had the charming sound of a happy little indie/folk band. By the third song, people were dancing up front and others were swaying in a tight group in the center.

Probably the best songs from the band were the ones that were heavily ukelele-based. They were just pleasant and the singers all had clear voices with the slightest bit of twang.

On the fifth song, the percussionist threw in a little surprise by introducing his glockenspiel. Even though the singers were fantastic, what really stood about about this band was its occasional sections of pure instrumentals.

By the end of the band's set, more people were filing into the bar ordering drinks and the level of rowdy was increased by a tad bit.

Following Deadwood Floats was Indigo Wild’s replacement, a Columbus band called Cliffs.

The duo, which consisted of a guitar player and a drummer, was pure punk rock, and honestly, I was disappointed. The attention of the audience began to die down as well, although I’m not sure if this was due to the music or the fact that people were getting drunker and more impatient.

Cliffs’ tunes tended to be overly lengthy and their lyrics were of the typical punky sort, challenging religion. One song was even “about existentialism and shit.”

The set dragged on, and I began to feel more and more like going home. Luckily their set wasn’t too long, and the anticipated She Bears were about to perform.

Unfortunately, right before the final set the crowd began to disperse and people were leaving the bar.

Although She Bears went on pretty late, the four-piece band still kept the attention of what was left of the crowd.

The band announced that this was the kick-off to its tour to promote their recently produced three-track EP.

She Bears performed a set of catchy, upbeat tunes that weren’t really dance-worthy, but it was still a pleasant end to the evening.

Many of the band's songs were very indie-sounding with some hints of pop. The percussion really stood out throughout their set, and the band never really slowed things down.

The only issue with She Bears’ set was the sound, as the instrumentals frequently drowned out the singer’s vocals. Besides that, the band finished on the right note, leaving the audience to stumble home with a satisfied feeling.

Friday, November 2, 2012

ACRN Presents: Emily & The Complexes, Stella & Friends In Distraction / November 1, 2012 / The Smiling Skull

By: Amanda Norris, Staff Writer

The Smiling Skull--ever the subject of our youthful yearnings. The place where a young, ill-adjusted pseudo-hipster kid can go for a fair cover charge, a sympathetic bartender and usually a pretty entertaining show. About half the time the crowd at the Skull can be more entertaining than the act. Last night's crowd was pretty tame, however, and Emily and the Complexes, the highlight of the night, were anything but.

Now I'll admit I'm a bit biased in that I've known this bunch of boys for awhile now, so of course I'm going to enjoy their set. But I think you can trust me when I say this band has grown a lot. I've watched the band grow from lone front man Tyler Verhagen into a trio at their first house show and now a solid four piece--a cohesive unit onstage and off. My roommates and I have screamed "I DON'T WANNA BE PRODUCTIVE"--an intro lyric of theirs--on more than one hopeless weeknight spent studying. And of course we do know all of the words and will sing and dance along. Because the best fangirls are friendgirls, and there's nothing wrong with loving a band you know well. Say what you will about college town shows, Emily and the Complexes is always a good time and, when amongst friends, so is the Smiling Skull.