Time, A Clock, Damon JeVon, Agent Strange and Doctype
Thursday, October 8, 2009
Better Than: That Alex Jones documentary on Bohemian Grove.
A Clock from Fort Collins kicked off Thursday's night show at the hi-dive, with his skilled sidekick, a DJ named Deadbeat, spinning jazz and R&B. Throughout his set, A Clock engaged in mid-tempo lyrical phrases that moved from spoken word into an explosion of rapid-fire slam poetry. With songs about self-discovery and self-affirmation, A Clock put in a solid set.
Up next was Damon JeVon, who performed a set that seemed far too short. The music accompanying his vocals was sort of a Philly style R&B with piano prominent in the melodies. His songs mixed the themes heard in blues songs with stories of personal and worldwide apocalypse and triumphing over disaster. Hip-hop is often about reporting and JeVon did just that, but instead of speaking only about life on the street, he grounded his critique of politics and society in everyday experiences in a way that made them seem immediate rather than abstract. In the process, he reminded us to reclaim our own dignity and power from those who would rob us of them.
Agent Strange from Brooklyn took the stage as a three piece including a singer, an acoustic drummer and a guy running electronics and samples. While the outfit can certainly be considered hip-hop, it's more like where hip-hop is going in some circles or where it eventually end up. The sound was a powerful combination of early '70s Curtis Mayfield, musically, and Stand!-era Sly & The Family Stone, vocally, with the live drums emphasizing both influences, all of which augmented Mike McFadden's beautiful falsettos and resonant middle-range singing. After inviting both Time and Extra Kool on stage to join them, Agent Strange closed the set with a rousing cover of "Last Caress" by the Misfits.
Doctype almost never performs live and mostly does beats and music on a computer. But the guy commanded the stage last night with sheer passion, playing a large hand drum that he broke toward the end of the set. The songs were driven by Doctype's signature thick but masterfully-syncopated beats on the low end and sometimes lovely sometimes urgent synth work in the upper registers. At the end of his set, Doctype was joined on stage by Extra Kool for a rendition of the almost-too-dark-too-perform "Part Two" from Kool's The Creature from the Whack Lagoon album.
For Time's set, Doctype and Damon JeVon joined AwareNess and Jeff (the live drummer) on stage for the best set Time's performed in Denver. Opening with the first track on Naked Dinner, "End of the Fork," the ensemble blurred the line between hip-hop, R&B and dark electronic pop. A powerful rendition of "Cockroach Goddess" was backed by its equal in "Portobello Cloud." For "Subterranean Homesick News," Extra Kool joined the crew for superb moments of lyrical wizardry. Doctype's vocal performance throughout was especially impassioned, particularly on "Sour Life." The set included strong performances of "Sorry for the Sorries," "Paraghnoid" and "Goodbye Fool World." And while Time would have ended the set with one of his classic freestyles, he was convinced to do an encore including what could be described as a "remix" of "Lumberjack Love." Exhilarating from beginning to end, this was one of the Dirty Lab crew's finest moments.
Personal Bias: I like everything coming out on Dirty Laboratory.
Random Detail: Ran into Iuengliss and Ancient Mith at the show.
By the Way: Xandy Whitesel made everyone sound startlingly great for this show.