Pictured above: Corey Woods. Raekwon. The Chef. The rapper who dropped a brilliant performance at the Firebird a few weeks back.
In a match made in Shaolin heaven, local duo Safety Words opened the evening with some new jams in addition to their 8-bit/Wu-Tang mashups and a backdrop of random video clips. These guys have been at the top of my “local artists I really want to see but haven’t yet” list and their set certainly didn’t disappoint. While the nerd in me is slightly bummed to hear that they plan on moving away from the 8-bit arena (I got really excited hearing cuts from Legend of Zelda and Super Mario Bros. that night), I’m definitely curious to see what they have planned going forward.
DJ Mahf (from the Earthworms) manned the turntables afterward, tossing in the perfect amount of crowd interaction to keep everyone lively. Kansas City rapper Steddy P eventually hopped on stage to lay down lyrics over Mahf’s beats. The musical result of their collaboration definitely sounded different than traditional hip-hop and floated well out of my range of descriptors (though new A to Z music editor Kiernan Maletsky says think Def Jux).
Most likely you know my feelings about hip-hop shows and their set times, so I won’t say much other than that Steddy P and Mahf finished a little after 10 PM and Raekwon took the stage well over an hour and a half later. Regardless, the crowd shouted and threw up their Wu-Tang signs once the Chef and his crew (sous chefs?) took the stage. I’m not a Wu-Tang Clan aficionado (only owning Iron Flag) and Raekwon is probably the major member I’m the least familiar with. Fortunately, the night turned out to be a great primer as his 20+ song set spanned everything from Wu-Tang classics to his latest Shaolin vs. Wu-Tang solo album. The man owned the stage. A packed house of nodding heads would agree.
Shot for Eleven Magazine.
Photography notes: The first two sets were lit enough for comfortable prime lens action, especially Safety Words with the added light from their video show. Unfortunately, Raekwon requested the front lights to be cut and at that instant the photographers’ collective hearts dropped. With only dim blue lighting in the back, even F1.4 felt like a struggle, leaving some to pull out their flashes. Out of habit, mine was at home, but thankfully for a few shots I was able to reap the benefit of other people’s flashes.
-In case you’re wondering who else is left on my local artist list, Sleepy Kitty and Theodore have now moved up a notch now that Safety Words has been crossed off.
-The bar TV was playing a kung-fu flick. Fitting.
-According to Bryan Sutter, Raekwon spent the afternoon playing basketball with some locals at the hotel. If you have the chance to block Raekwon, do you swat the ball or let him take the shot?
The Administrative Stuff: