Concert Reviews

Last night: Fresh Breath Committee CD release at the Fox Theatre

The Pirate Signal, 3 the Hardway, The ReMINDers, Fresh Breath Committee, Masta Ace.
Fox Theater
Thursday October 8, 2009
Better than:
Anything you have to wake up for on Friday that would have stopped you from being there.

Approaching the Fox last night for the Fresh Breath Committee's CD release show, featuring the Committee with rap royality Masta Ace, along with an all star local cast of the Pirate Signal, 3 the Hardway and the ReMINDers, it warmed my frozen soul (it was cold as hell in Boulder last night) to see some of the characters streaming in and around the place -- producers, DJs and MCs and friends of producers, DJs and MCs.  It was a great balance of those who came to watch the show and those who came to have the show watch them. There were stilettos and Yankee caps, Rockies gear and Bronco colors, really pretty girls and some of the meanest mugs I've encountered since leaving Brooklyn.

The Pirate Signal kicked off the show with a ridiculous amount of energy. I had to remind myself, in fact, that I wasn't watching LL Cool J sweat the stage out. Yonnas and Awhat smashed the whole spot during their set and rocked the crowd til damn near explosion, culminating with "I Can't Wait," a song about quitting your 9-5. 

3 the Hardway, who was up next, came out to a crowd thirsting for the continued flow and slightly gasping for air.  A.V.I.U.S Es-Nine and super stellar DJ Cysko Rokwel put on a clinic of group cohesion and live vocal precision on the mike.  Ripping through their set, it was interesting to watch the crowd jam to the music, if not totally connecting with the MCs lyrically. In a remix of "This Moment" titled "Soul to Stroll," A.V.I.U.S lead a soul clap on the two and the four to a sample of "Back to Life" made famous by Soul II Soul.  Those who knew the song, sang along while too young to remember the track geeked out at the wonders of DJ Cysko. ManeRok snapped it all back together with a guest performance so comfortable, it almost felt like he was on stage the whole time.

When the ReMINDers took the stage, they noticably changed the flow, scenery and pace of the show. Aja Black and Big Samir simply brought it. Clad in an electric purple jacket and some other sparkly stuff, Aja's vocals and dynamic flow created a rhythm that complemented Big Samir, whose carefully crafted intensity offered an infusion of confidence into tracks like "Hands Up," a hip-hop stick up that inspired some old school call and response.  The stand out track of the set was "Black Roses," featuring Aja's vocals, which were bright and raw combined with Samir's lyrical lucidity.

Whygee, our host for the night, filled the lulls in between sets. As with any Whygee affiliated anything, there were the moments of spontaneous craziness.  At one point, the MC kept the audience warm and ready with songs about a boom box and getting buried and some other freestyles as the night's stars prepared to take the stage.

Fresh Breath Committee showcased some serious stamina as it closed the night out with a set of more than a dozen songs, including a solo piece from Catch Lungs, an a capella clap/stomp from vocalist Crystal and a guest set with the ReMINDers. There was a thematic undertone to the complete package, a mix of CPR promo, lights and a dinner jacket or two on "Bus Stop." At one point Flawless brought out a saxophone and attempted to go all Charlie Parker on us. It was disappointing that he didn't really wail, but he looked great and practiced nonetheless.

For the most part, Fresh Breath rocked completely out, despite a few minor missteps. At times, Crystal's vocals shrieked, prompting a few hunched shoulders, scrunched faces and utter moments of disapproval from the crowd. Overall, though, the MCs brought the flavor, and the act's DJ, Skip Ripkin provided sincere clarity through some of the confusing parts and kept things moving during a wardrobe change.  

As good as the performances were, it was the notable commaderie between all of the artists that offered the biggest breath of fresh air. From the sweat to the dancing, there were ample moments of greatness. Overall, it was a good look for local hip-hop.

Personal Bias:
I think the Pirate Signal was placed wrong in the line-up.  The energy was befitting a slightly larger crowd.
Random Detail: I counted eight local DJ's and countless other performers.
By the Way: Getting backstage at the Fox is sort of like a labyrinth.