Sole and the Skyrider Band @ Garfield Artworks

I sat through 4 hours of underground hip-hop artists and no one offered me weed. Garfield Artworks was near empty, but those in attendance sported their dreadlocks, rasta hats and beards proudly. I must say that I am totally and completely the wrong person to review this show. Hip-hop in any form is not my thing. But I walked in with open mind and ears. Although the dreadlocked girls crocheting in the corner wearing red Christmas lights were weirding me out a bit.

The show began with The Dreadnots, a trio of electronic musicians from here in the ‘Burgh. It’s difficult to appreciate someone tinkering over a piece of electronic equipment the way one would a musical instrument, but the turntable and rapping skills of this group were actually quite impressive. It’s at this time a man enters wearing white jeans and a black leather fanny pack, and for the first time in my life, I feel far too attractive for the crowd surrounding me.

Following The Dreadnots is Jack Wilson and his band. They have real instruments: a drum set and a dulcimer. Yes, a dulcimer. Apparently angry hippies just grow up to be beat poets, because that’s generally what this trio is–beat poetry over drums. The dulcimer adds an air of Beastie Boys at the Renaissance Festival. While their speed is impressive, the rapid delivery of the lyrics make their words impossible to understand. Near the end of their set, I’m pretty sure I smell pot, yet I’m still not stoned. Why is this? I have no idea.

The next act is Lord Grunge. Lord Grunge is a guy with all of this backing tracks on a laptop. So, technically, this is professional karaoke. While he is entertaining and has a commanding stage presence, not one of his songs is more than 2 minutes long. The first song is basically an angry, pro-anarchy rap anthem. After that, all of his songs are weak, pop-punk ditties. By the time he’s finished, I’m truly wishing these people were sharing the pot I know they have.

Telephone Jim Jesus is next. A bona fide DJ, he brings up beats and loops one by one, mixing them together right there and then. At a few points, he creates a vocal loop with his microphone and adds it to the composition. There are several moments where the song gets far too busy and reaches the point of total cacophony, most times right after he produces a solid mix. It feels, for the most part, like we should be dancing instead of standing and watching. The music is at a deafening volume, but I can’t help but think how cool it would sounds with live drums. Where’s Dave Grohl when you need him?

Finally, Sole and the Skyrider Band take the stage. I instantly notice that the drummer looks like a mix between Paul Rudd and PopWreck(oning)‘s own Joshua. I contemplate raping him later on, however the idea of a prison sentence deters me. From the moment Sole gets on the mic, you can tell that he, in addition to the rest of the band, loves being onstage. His speedy delivery rivals that of Jack Wilson, but Sole’s lyrics are much easier to understand. He also delivers emotion with his speed, something that Wilson lacked. The instrumentation is fantastic and the musicians have a great feel for one another. The are certain points when the music is just as cacophonous as Jim Jesus’s, however they manage to maintain rhythm in the midst of the chaos, proving that there is a method to their madness.

Aside from some tasteless 9/11 jokes, Sole and the Skyrider Band puts on a good show. That is, if “Hippie-Hop,” as I’ve dubbed it, is your thing.


One Response

  1. Nice job! For someone that doesn’t “do” Hip Hop.

    However we Hip Hop fans like to call Sole and the rest of that gang that performed, “back-pack” rap.

    Its usually, tech, indie, emo, mostly HipHop, and grunge.

    But Sole is one of the best. El-P, Aesop Rock,, and Atmosphere, were just a hop, skip, and jump from being in this category.

    While people like Kanye West, Jay-Z, and Diddy are famous for making “Pop-Hop”.

    Coined by yours truly.


    Ace Fadal

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