Picking up a thread I started on Tuesday, in which I confessed to judging a band's performance based on elements that, honestly, had nothing to do with the music, I'd like to turn now to the flip side. Last weekend, I decided I liked an act before it even took the stage. Once again, my snap judgment had nothing to do with the music.
I'm accustomed to all-ages shows at the Marquis Theater starting and ending early, so I arrived for the Pirate Signal show at 8, only to find that the opening act wasn't scheduled to hit the stage until 9:15. I was on my own and -- thanks to the beer, whiskey and ginger vodka of the previous night -- not in a drinking mood, so I killed the time by texting friends, loitering and looking creepy to the underage kids whose parents had dropped them off too early.
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While loitering, I noticed a young man, politely approaching strangers with a stack of CDs and some postcards and striking up conversations. This was David Strauss (aka D. Allie), one of the two Detroit MCs who would be opening the show. I was struck by the respectful and genuine way he engaged folks -- even the drunk St. Paddy's crowd lined up at the pizza counter who clearly weren't going to spend their car bomb money on a CD or ticket to the show. He wasn't hawking his wares and he wasn't trying to schmooze. He seemed genuinely interested in meeting folks and, incidentally, increasing the awareness of his music, one person at a time.
Later in the interminable wait for the show's kickoff, I was joined by Dave Herrera and Chad Fahnestock. As the three of us talked shop, we were approached by another unassuming young guy with a mittful of postcards. Having no clue that we were potential enemies, Dante Tucker (aka Dante LaSalle), the other Detroit MC on the bill, introduced himself and struck up a friendly conversation. It was partly about music and the duo's current Sweat Equity Tour, but it was also just about making a human connection.
By the time D. Allie and Dante stepped up on the Marquis's stage, I was already a fan. I took my spot front and center, and showed my appreciation as clearly as I could. And it had nothing to do with the music -- at least, not at first. It had to do with two artists going out of their way to connect with people who don't know their music, leading with that connection instead of trying to talk you out of your unemployment check. Now, as it turned out, D. Allie and Dante both delivered memorable performances that rocked the Marquis and paved the way for the local hip-hop acts that followed (see the review here). But even if they hadn't, they'd still be able to count me as a fan.
Artists, take note.