Every year, for the Westword Music Showcase, we enlist our army of Backbeat wordsmiths to host various stages, and, in addition to their emcee obligations, we ask them to pull double duty (or triple-duty in some cases) and also write up the acts that appear on their individual stages. Nicole Cormier hosted the City Hall Upstairs stage. Page down to read her thoughts and see some photos.
The City Hall Upstairs stage got a later start due to some production difficulties. Despite being an hour behind schedule, Anxious brought an impressive and patient crowd. Though he had the dreaded first time slot, his upbeat set engaged the people.
Gyp Da Hip flexed his skills, and his ability to be a team player kept the show (and the people) moving. Input promptly jumped into his set, his quick wit and smooth style was a breath of fresh air on an all-around stifling day. The friendly and upbeat Koo Qua rocked with some of her crew and politely introduced herself to the scene.
DJ Ktone, a consummate professional, managed the less than ideal equipment with ease and played some of the dopest tracks of the day. Julox repped for A-Town, and steered his set with his deep drawl and some crowd pleasers. D'Girl graciously conquered the wobbly stage in some killer heels. Eternal purist DJ Low Key managed the equipment like a champ. Besides some justified disappointment, he was all-around helpful and optimistic on top of being, simply, a dope-ass DJ. Mr. Midas followed and displayed his statue in physique and on the mike.
Rockie kept the people interested and did his part to build up the numbers. He and his crew were engaging and hyped. DeeJay Tense upped the ante with his coinciding DJ and video set and seamlessly ushered in the next acts, The Diamond Boiz, who displayed the most energy of the day. All over the stage and the venue, they literally gave the crowd no choice but to listen and participate.
Their perfectly timed set gave way to Mane Rok's by way of a shared track. Always a highlight, Mane Rok, rocking an "El Jefe" shirt, justified the moniker with his finely tuned set. The back-to-back-to-back set of Tense, Diamond Boiz and Mane Rok by far attracted the biggest and most supportive crowd of the day.
DJ Top Shelf showed his flexibility and preparedness as an artist and a person. He ushered in and followed the next act in a prompt and effortless fashion. Spoke In Wordz moved amongst the crowd and did his thing perfectly timed, as expected.
Hypnautic and his Top Flite crew did a short set to be accommodating. Despite complaints of sound issues, they still gave it their all. An unexpected lineup change bumped the schedule back on track, proving to be the first positive surprise of the day.
Whether slam, spoken word or rap, Bianca Mikahn offered a little of everything in her set. Mikahn embodies everything rhyme. She revitalized the by-then wary crowd with her energetic style and personality. J. Carey, quiet and composed, finished out the day with his powerful and memorable voice. His charismatic set was a much needed calm-down from the hectic day.
Despite the challenges and various technical difficulties, the hip-hop cats still pulled off quite a show and displayed their professionalism and ability to smile in the face of struggle. They made the day work, and they are what makes (and will continue to make) the local hip-hop culture such a beautiful and united front.
-- Nicole Cormier
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