Sitting at the keys in the dark, he starts up. The drums, the sole accompaniment, join him. The lights don’t come on. 3 white panels at the back of the stage start to slowly omit a haze of deep pink. His silhouette is set against the bands of multi-coloured lights which follow the tempo of the music.
The song ends abruptly. The lights still don’t come on. And another song begins. The deep, morose sadness of ‘Pour Maman’ leads to a crescendo of Prince-like wails and electric guitar combination. The crowd loves it but the cries end quicker than the song started. The panels turn teal and we get a quick introduction and comment about being in the city for the first time.
“I only found out about this guy on Tuesday…” Oh. Back to the music. No time to think.
The interchanging solid strips of colour transform into moving images of graphic designs, hand drawn animation and filmed sequences. We get a better idea of what Gabriel Garzón-Montano looks like now, what with the projections moving over his face but it’s clear he’d rather let the music he’s presenting and the visuals around him take prominence.
It’s so nice to be entertained and inspired by someone that knows exactly what they’re doing. When a new artist comes along it’s not a given you will be presented with exactly that, in my experience.
The Brooklyn-born singer-songwriter, influenced by his French and Colombian heritage equally, is only an EP into his career at 25. It may have only been 40 minutes long but his live show was one of the most unique and assured that I’ve seen in a long time. It could have something to do with supporting Lenny Kravitz last year and this Spin article discovers how he has grown as an artist.
Sometimes I feel like I’m part of an experiment when an artist is making their first steps into performing live or showcasing new work. It can be obvious they’re testing songs, developing their connection with their audience and building confidence in their performance skills.
Logic would say a more experienced performer would be that person/band/group. When a relatively new artist like Garzón-Montano defies that, it makes it much more satisfying.
Last night I travelled to Birmingham with some of my clubbing friends to a monthly broken beats and house night called Bruk Up.
It took place at the Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath, a music venue that has a distinctly soulful vibe going on.
Bruk Up is definitely one for the dancers; there were break dancers, jazz dancers and even tap dancing. I’m not sure what style my moves come under but they seemed to work. There were observers too but the majority of people are there to dance and involve themselves wholly in the music.
The energy in there was amazing and it was pretty cool to share the dancefloor with Detroit musician Amp Fiddler, who had been performing in another part of the venue, for a few minutes.
It was great to find a significant amount of people committed to a dance culture rare to see in UK clubs.
This video of one of the many dance offs captures a little bit of what went down. I will definitely be back.
The final Bruk Up of 2014 is Saturday December 6th. Full details are yet to be announced online but check out their website here.
My Monday so far:
Dropped a pot of yogurt on the kitchen floor.
But it’s all okay. Because I can’t stop listening to ‘Friends’ from Seven Davis Jr’s latest LP, out on Classic Music Company. I think almost everyone can relate to his tale of friendship.
My summing up of Theo Parrish’s show 2 Tuesdays ago will seem ancient in a world of real-time news and opinion. However in the world of people bumping into each other on the weekend and in the street to chat, I still think I’ve some valuable points to add to what’s become an interesting mini-debate for Manchester music heads.
Theo Parrish’s latest project, a 3-date tour of his first live show in 10 years, was hosted in association with Red Bull Music Academy (RBMA). RBMA is a quality seal of approval for some, especially considering the names (Moodymann, Larry Levan block party, Masters At Work, Erykah Badu) it’s been associated with in the past.
RBMA made a good choice with their latest addition to their list of modern music gods. Highly revered, experimental artist within the genre? Tick. A dedicated audience? Big, fat tick. So the show was absolutely flawless, atmospheric and soul stirring? I’m not sure. Oh…
I was shocked to hear the audience still in pre-show mode in the middle of his first song. I’m not sure whether the crowd wasn’t listening because they were being rude or because his stage presence wasn’t as captive as say, when you see him really giving it in his sets.
The producer and artist covered some soulful classics and brought a soulful and melodic edge to some of deep house and techno based cuts. Despite knowing Parrish was with a full band, including singer/songwriter/keys player Amp Fiddler and a beast of a drummer in Myele Manzana, I found it strange to hear the richer sounds coming from the stage. I’m so used to a stripped-back sound from him but, I knew what we were in for, it’s was a case of taking time to accept the fact.
‘Walking Thru The Sky’ and Soul Control’, two of my absolute favourites of his, just didn’t get me going. I’m annoyed looking back at these moments, as I should have moved towards the front. I did do later, to find the sound was much better. Finally, I could get a sense of a connection and respect the band members had for one another.
I’m not entirely sure that respect translated to the audience properly and at times it did feel more like an experimental jam session instead of a professional live performance. I would have preferred to hear more backing singers sharing the vocal responsibilities and seen less of the dancers; who by the last 4 songs were visibly tired. This was a bit of a shame as the band really did get going by then, receiving a rapturous reception for his recent release ‘Footwork.’ I feel like the dancers had their big moment with that song and I just don’t feel they were able to give it their all.
People I’ve spoke to since, all had something to say about the show. Some were unhappy, some indifferent and some loved it. Regardless if they were bored, disappointed or overjoyed, I have to say that the majority reaction was of happiness and pride; particularly as a well-loved member of the deep house community just gave his all for a performance that many critics couldn’t even imagine to have a go at.
Overall, there were sections and areas to be worked at and revised but I think that’s something all performers go through. I believe that with a little polish of the raw talent Parrish possesses will go a long way for his future shows.
The bit with the car.
The reflections and shadows.
And Theo at the end.
From Theo Parrish’s upcoming album, American Intelligence, out on Sound Signature now.
Family feuds are not cool and London producer Blaksmif gets right to the heart of the matter with ‘My Own Blood’, his debut vocal track on Ramp Recordings .
I feel quite sad and also a bit guilty because I like the fact it’s so heartbreaking. And atmospheric. And minimal. It’s heart on sleeve time. Or maybe a plate? I hope Blaksmif figures it out with his brother.
Released 25/05 on Ramp Recordings, available for pre-order on iTunes.
I’ve always maintained an interest in Katy B’s music but her songs, bar a couple of her previous singles, never ‘got’ me. I’ve kept an eye on her talent because I believe she’s got enough to be the whole package.
Her recent release, ‘Little Red’, was much hyped on my Twitter feed so I decided to see how her music had developed since her 2011 album, On A Mission. The songs which stood out for me were ‘I Like You’, and more so, a duet with Sampha called ‘Play’. Liking a Katy B song in the past pretty much translated into ‘I like it but wouldn’t be bothered if it was played or not’. Now, liking this means it’s a regular feature on my playlist of current loves.
I like the direct tone to her lyrics, how she uses imagery to portray exactly what she wants and the skittery, soulful vibe. And the fact Sampha is on it. Check it here:
Most of the other tracks on Little Red don’t grab me. However, Play displays a glimpse of maturity and a slight edge she could use to her advantage in the future. In the same breadth, it could just be a filler song to Miss B. Either way, it’s nice to hear her doing something a little different.
It’s Thursday and time for some calm before the weekend storm.
All I Ever Wanted is classic Teedra over a sample of Camp Lo’s ultra classic, Luchini. It’s from her new EP, Cognac and Conversation, due later this spring. What’s not to love? HEART IT.
I’m not entirely 100% about Faded after only a few listens. But there’s something about Lizzo’s UK debut (skip to 4 mins 44 secs to listen to the track above) that makes me think I’ll end up loving it.
Maybe it’s her frenetic style, which reminds me so much of B.O.B by Outkast, or Lizzo’s humorous sense of truth shining through her rhymes. Case in point: “It’s that L to the I to the Z Z O / Ain’t got no time for the C3P0, Wookie, rookie / Never knock nookie, but I’d rather stack cookies / Looking at the sunset the color of Snookie”.
She’s just finished a mini tour around the UK; Gone Out favourites Murkage supported her last night at Birthdays in London so you can imagine the carnage that combination caused.
Happy Monday all, I hope you’ve had a nice weekend.
Check out my ADTV review of Prince and 3rd Eye Girl, who performed at Manchester Academy this past Friday and Saturday.
I fully pledge allegiance to the Purple One.
Prince and 3rd Eye Girl’s visit to Manchester (21st February) has seen dedicated fans and some of the city’s taste makers in a state of anticipation, occasional frustration and eventual euphoria.
In the run up to Prince’s first performance here since his Apollo gig in 2002, where he was ‘so naughty’ according to one of the girls in the office, he wasn’t about to let up on the guessing games that have been a big part of his current tour here. There were Twitter rumours, that Brits announcement, online tickets that sold out in a matter of minutes and unconfirmed numbers of tickets on the door… Click here to read on…