Sunday, May 1, 2011

Japan Benefit With Knowmads, Real Rogers and Friends at the Vera Project

I steered the Japan benefit show at the Vera, putting my 13 year old son and his 3 buddies along with 6 or 7 other volunteers to work running a hip hop show.

The headliners were the Knowmads, and the previous Knowmads show was somewhat controversial. The Vera is an all ages venue, and the sold out mostly white North end and East side hip hop crowd loves it's booze and weed. We had 3 pukes in the venue to deal with (they probably binged on the booze before coming in), I confiscated some booze from an audience member, and any number of bozos felt compelled to light up joints or pipes or whatever pot smoking devices they smuggled in.

We run an all ages venue partially on the basis of being drug and alcohol free, so the controversy is real and important. We bring youth into the venue, and their parents are OK with them being at our shows because we won't expose them to pot smoke and drunken boorish adult behavior, so attention must be paid to living up to our end of the bargain for all shows.

For this show we brought on a crew of 3 paid security staff, along with the regular front door security checking bags, packs and pockets (we don't normally check pockets), and 3 additional volunteer (unpaid) security staff. We put 3 into concessions, a couple of people selling tickets at the front door, and opened the venue up to the crowd.

We got a reasonable crowd, close to the 140 we hope to average but not sold out. One thing I love about the hip hop shows: the crowd gets up close to the performers, crowding up around the stage. The energy level goes way up and the performers thrive on it, giving better performances, which inspires the crowd to amp up the energy in a joyous sweaty dancing feedback loop.

The security was overkill and we didn't get any pukers, so it was a much nicer as far as that goes.

This is probably the best video footage I've ever seen from my Flip camera, the volunteer videographer got right up front and made an intimate fun video of the performance, here's Knowmad's "The Boat Can Leave Now," my current favorite clip:

Better yet, if you got the fat internet pipes play the HD version:

I did a terrible job of keeping track of who performed at the show. There was an earlier act with a man and a woman vocalist that I liked, but I didn't catch the performer's names, here are photos of them:
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Rawlo was one of 3 or 4 acts listed ahead of time, so perhaps one of these is Rawlo.
We had short sets from several performers including K $neaky here:

Warm Gun did a short set with some nice numbers:

Warm Gun also played some guitar, I managed to miss it but the photographer didn't:
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I think these 2 might have been the last act that performed after Knowmads, but I'm not sure:
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Based on the chant it sounds like G-lite, he has some nice backing vocals from the woman who sang with an earlier act. He got a bit longer and rocked the Vera out for several good tunes:

Real Rogers and (from the chant) ICMB (?) did a great set, keeping the crowd jumping and dancing and yelling and waving those arms:

Next up were the headlining Knowmads
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Knowmads performed a great set, I already included What We Do To Survive earlier, here's "Wildflower"

Keep 'em High was another standout track:

Good group dynamics, fast and disciplined multi-person rapping, good rhythms and intricate switching and combining of vocals, with some pounding climaxes - very nice stuff, I love me some bouncing around to a good Knowmads show, wearing my arms out lifting them over my head, and sweating through my clothes as I grin like a happy idiot at all the happy people bouncing around me.

P.S. The Vera Videographer was also the Photographer, I simply have to track down her name so I can give her the credit she is due. She gave me her e-mail address but I promptly lost it. Doh! Gonna have to track back through the volunteer sign up sheet next time I'm at the Vera, I suppose. The pictures were taken with my cheap digital camera (not even an SLR) and they were pretty blurry - fast action, weak flash and slow camera combine to mke it difficult to avoid the blurring. In many cases the blurring gave the picture an interesting dynamic quality, and I;ve included a few in this blog post.

Given the number of unknown performers, in general comment away if you know who somebody is or what song is being performed.

...and as always, comment for any reason you like, I always feel flattered whenever somebody comments.

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