I have to say: BAM Cafe has done a great job of creating a community space. Because the Friday and Saturday night series are free, you can just roll through and, more often than not, hear some great music.
Last night was the second of three Friday shows that the Black Rock Coalition (President LaRonda Davis, left) is presenting during Black History Month (or, in regards to the subject of this blog, "Black Hipster-y Month"; hat tip to George).
Kyp Malone got us started. It's amazing to watch a room of 300 or so people completely enthralled by a bearded, Afro-ed brotha on an electric guitar. Kyp does a lot of quiet introspection in his songs. And then throws in zingers like this: "Thanks to the BRC. This is the most black faces I've ever seen at any of my shows."
Up next was Dragons of Zynth. Three words: They killed it! With Kyp giving them props. Their set was the kind of moment you look forward to when you go to a show: The surprise. I'd seen them back in June at the Afropunk Festival's closing night. They were alright. But last night, they were somehow tighter, funkier. Don't get me wrong, DOZ's funk isn't the standard-issue boom bap. No, Bizza's doling out syncopated, propulsive polyrhythms. And I hadn't noticed how Aku and Akwetey trade lead singer duties. The energy's there no matter which one's on lead. Like I said, they killed it.
Which was unfortunate for Power Douglas. See, I wanted to really like this band. After hearing "Pangea" on their Myspace page, I got why this bill looked good on paper. And to seeing Furor Thin in person, I saw the energy and personality needed to make the things work. But the problem wasn't him, it was the rhythm section that didn't seem to be able to get the plane off the ground. Also, they play with feedback and distortion as part of their sound, which made it difficult to hear what Furor was saying. My suggestion is to go for a cleaner sound next time. I will give these guys another listen. Like I said, I wanted to like them more, partially because they're working with King Britt and I respect his taste.
But this is the magic (or not) of live music: You've got to be able to either read the room and adjust to get in sync with the crowd or you're just able to own it.
Major shout out to CX Kidtronik who held it down on the decks. It's always great to hear what brush ups and remixes he'll pull out. I particularly liked the version of Sade's "By Your Side" he dropped. Rock on!
Talk about community! Folks in the house included Bryan aka Kaos Blac; Tjade from Roughstars; Dustbin Brother Mikel Banks; Terry Scott (who, I respectfully submit, needs to get his own damn blog!); URB ALT founder and MuthaWit leader Boston Fielder (he's got some big announcements on the way for the 2008 festival in June!); Luq Brown of Funkface; uber-producer Bill Toles; Mike Machado of D-Xtreme; Evan Patrick from Red Lights to Rio.
The Cafe has a no photos policy, which is unfortunate, since they themselves weren't documenting the night, as far as I'd been told. Anyway, here are some photos of folks who were out soaking up the vibe.
Luq from Funkface (c), DJ CX Kidtronik (r) and friend
The Bluegum team–rock critic royalty Kandia Crazy Horse (l) and Tavia Nyong'o (c)–along with NYU's Rich Blint (r)