Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Is a change in the air?

This past Monday modern democracy met Mike D and the results were unanimous. As the pollsters lined the anxious street alongside Amos’ Southend, the temperature began to dip, the sun slowly receded and that ‘change in the air’ that everyone has been talking so much about, it blew brisk.

The event began a week or so prior with an early announcement email. Beastie Boys are headlining a Rock the Vote type tour and Charlotte is on the list of important destinations. The motive behind the tour is to bring politically charged, forward ideal enlisting and thought provoking artists together to entertain as well as remind the youth of the importance to uphold their amazing right to vote! Word was out in the music community a month or so ago that the Beastie Boys were to take their voice to the people and that all were invited to join. In supporting the true ideals of the American Democracy way of life, the B-Boys held no prejudice to who was hoping on the tour bus. The acts range from Jack Johnson and Sheryl Crow to Santogold and Tenacious D. There was one major stipulation: The cause is to raise awareness, enlist non-registered voters and encourage us to all take part in this historic race for the Oval Office. That being said, Rage Against the Machine and the likes of Steve Earle did not make the cut.

Tucked inside the warmth of the neighborhood Tavern on the Tracks, my show going partner and financial backer to LTME (he spotted me on dinner and drinks), Phil T, and myself put the worries of the day aside and warmed our thoughts with the foam of a Newcastle and the chatter of the show to come. Throughout the day there unfolded much speculation of the show; will Tenacious D make a surprise appearance? He already did a gig at UNCC this very afternoon, surely he’ll make a stop! Phil T had been shooting me emails as the day progressed: 4 private tour buses all out front. Lots of security running around in yellow shirts not looking particularly fit I might add. It seems Phil T was stalking the grounds in preparation.

As the conversation grew I leaned over to my neighbor and drew him into the fold of our talks. He fast informed us that this was to be his 5th, no scratch that, 4th Beastie Boy show, and yes he could not be any more amped for the performance to get underway. Jordan, our new found friend, was riding solo after his buddy found himself stranded a mere 20min this side of Boone. A fate none of us wished to meet on the brink such an important evening. There was intermingling of the word of the day as we brushed up on the NCAA football weekend that had been and the UGA-FLORIDA GAME this coming Saturday. I recapped my thoughts on the Panthers game and we mumbled about our failure to secure a ticket to Hampton, fucking ticketmaster. But fear not, the true topic of the hour did soon come when he made the off the cuff remark: Seems funny to me that they are doing this show seeing as everyone there is already going to be voting the same way. That way of course being the Obama way. Now I don’t want to get into semantics here, but Phil and myself may or may not be voting that way, so Jordan, perhaps things aren’t always what they seem. You get a whiff of that change yet?

We soon wrapped the talks up, everyone provided their closing remarks, our moderator delegated her charges, I seceded to Phil T and as the incumbent I gladly accepted the challengers show of good faith via the daily special “Brass Monkey” shots.

For most of the tour the Boys have been and will hit up major venues, large arenas and well known coliseums. They are checking in at the largest city in every swing state. North Carolina in the age of 2008 now sees itself as an important swing state and Charlotte, in the shadows of the recent banking fiasco, is now a major point of influence for the upcoming election. There does remain one more variable for the area: not a whole heck of a lot of music venues, especially one that can cater to a show of this nature. Turns out Amos’ fit the bill (same location as the infamous Camel Cigarette Flaming Lips show).

Up first, Santogold. I dig Santogold. As noted at the mid break of the year, her debut album has won me over. Sure it’s running on practically the same platform as M.I.A., but she might appeal to a slightly smaller constituency. For her sake, I feel bad that the press has not spread the good word as it should. I believe she should take up as many grassroots stumpers as possible, guess I need to go door to door.

Santogold made her way through the main tracks from her album and did so with a very politically friendly smile. Despite not being known to most, she won the hearts of many over and by the time her set came to close folks were cheering for more. The set was predictable and so well rehearsed it almost seemed fake. She has a great voice, but much of what was delivered had digital track backing from the DJ. This made the backing vocals a little too prominent, like Santogold was lip synching, which she was not…I READ HER LIPS! The two dancers to either side of her strutted the odd movement and swagger of some top notch B-girls with island flavoring. She drew enough praise as to have another LTME fan overhear one of the venues’ patrons tell the assistant in the bathroom that “she’s pretty hot for a black chick, you into her?” Not in the spirit of the moment at all to say the least…jerk.


If you use Sheryl Crow, the answer is: nope.


And, if you so choose, you can Three MC and one DJ the shit out of a vote as well!
When we first stood out in the brisk breeze of the air of change, we being Phil T, Hash and myself, we enjoyed an up close greeting from Mike D and MCA. I gotta say kids, they aren’t as young as they were when I wore their shirts to school and blared their CD’s in my room, but I dare say they are even cooler now than they have ever been.

That sense of coolness certainly translates to the live show as well. Just sick. Not much to describe as the Beastie’s opted to leave the instruments on the bus and focused on the rhyme routine. What I can say is that the energy was perfect. They flow across the stage bouncing off one another physically and lyrically. The spontaneity was brilliant. Altering lyrics, changing timing, throwing the verses over new back beats, they make a song that you’ve heard the same way since 6th grade sound fresh and relevant…that ain’t easy seeing as hip-hop songs age faster than any other genre.

There is a feeling of mutual respect and appreciation as well as a rare comradeary amongst the Boys that transcends into the vibe of the sound and performance. I had seen the Beastie Boys only once before at the Gwinnet Civic Arena. I was far away then but flipped out over the stage show, costumes, lighting etc. Here I saw what true fans yearn for from their favorite acts: the crowning achievement of having being one of the most important and influential artists of all time, having toured the world over and over, charted all their albums and won all the big awards, now giving back to the fans in the confines of an intimate setting. To be as corny as possible, it was indeed a special evening and I can’t believe I was there (well I guess I can, because there ain’t no way the Beastie Boys were gonna come to town and I was not gonna be there rockin out!)

The show was around 13 songs, covered the catalog and closed with No Sleep Til Brooklyn, So Watcha' Want and Intergalactic. It don’t get no better than that folks.

Maybe there is a change coming, or maybe sometimes it is best to find the tried and proven in a new light. However you see it, the moment is real, take part.

I voted about an hour ago and it felt great.

Overall Rating:

No comments: