Review: Sole and the Skyrider Band at hi-dive, 7/14/11

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There is a feeling you get at an album release show that is unrivaled at other shows. The energy behind it is such that you can't help but feel proud for the people on stage. Last night at the hi-dive, the energy was roaring as Sole and the Skyrider Band celebrated its release of its new record, Hello Cruel World.

Sole and the Skyrider Band took the stage shortly after Ceschi's set, which ended with a completely bonkers finale featuring Sole and Pictureplane, rapping like some skinny white boy Flavor Flav. When Sole stepped up for his set, he owned the stage. It was as if nobody had ever been on stage before, like he was the first and only one to ever even think about walking onto it. Although he made sure to share the stage with his band -- which happened to be the only act of the evening with enough people to actually take up the entire stage -- he still managed to overshadow them a bit, even when Pictureplane joined him for a chorus heavy slower track.

There is something to be said about hip-hop when it uses a full band; it sounds full, open and the free-form nature of it makes it feel more natural. That's not to say there is anything wrong laptop hip-hop -- but a band adds a dimension of mistake not around with a computer. For the most part, Sole and the Skyrider Band kept to the new record, but regardless of the freshness of it, the crowd had no problem engaging, even if they couldn't sing along. The group sounded fantastic together and managed to crank through the set incredibly quickly with little room for crowd banter or bullshit.

There were plenty of slower moments in the show -- as Hello Cruel World isn't a particularly abrasive record -- but it provided a nice reprieve from the in-your-faceness of the rest of the night. By this point, people were certainly getting into that weird mix of rowdy and exhausted, but the energy exuded from the band kept everyone alive long enough to finish things out.

Before Sole and his band closed out the night, Ceschi kicked off his set sitting on the stage with an acoustic guitar. He rolled out an awful folk song before performing a more traditional hip-hop set, standing on the floor in front of the stage. He continued the whole set on the floor, which was a solid choice, considering he was operating with just a laptop and his voice. There is one sure fire way to get an audience excited and that's to be a part of them. He eventually took this to the logical extreme and wandered into the middle of the audience with his acoustic guitar out again and played something of a campfire hymn while people circled around him. He even got at least one hug in the process.

Egadz is one of the most vibrant electronic acts I've seen in a long while. It's not easy to make undanceable electronic music enjoyable to watch, but he managed it with style. You can certainly see the hip-hop and sampling roots, but the human element employed in the live show makes a serious difference not just in the sound, but the reception. The crowd was into it whole-heartedly, with very few people holding themselves up on the bar. I have to admit, I love watching people trying to dance to this kind of stuff, looking like a rag doll in space with arms flailing oddly at their sides. It's how I imagine Winnie the Pooh would dance if he wandered into an electronic show.

Greencarpetedstairs opened up the show. As far as I could tell, it was something like what I'd imagine Slowdive would sound like if if didn't have guitars. The music was a bit samey throughout, filled with reverb-drenched vocals that were uninterested in fluctuation and drizzled with beats that refused to change. There seems to be something here, but at the moment, what that thing is isn't entirely compelling. There were some stronger tracks, particularly the last one, and I can see where the music is heading, but at the moment, this one-man act is still figuring out exactly how to make its sound its own.


Personal Bias: I adore seeing shows at the hi-dive you wouldn't expect to be at the hi-dive. Random detail: There were at least four people with green hair in the audience, which I probably inaccurately chalk up to Scott Pilgrim vs the World being awesome. By the Way: After Pictureplane joined Sole on stage, he commented, "I was just on stage rapping with one of my heroes in high school.

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