Last night I trekked out to two different hip hop shows in Kansas City. I knew they would be very different from one another, but I don’t think the differences really struck me with such authority until I just recently sat down to write this.
The Kansas City Academy at 79th & Holmes played host to Joc Max, Miles Bonny, Reggie B and Brandon Draper’s hip hop/jazz/”modern beat” showcase. I don’t know if the four of them would call it a “clinic” necessarily, but that’s how I like to think of it looking back at last night. The small theater at KC Academy wasn’t quite as packed with patrons as the Organic Proof CD release event a couple of weeks ago, but everyone was equally attentive, curious and appreciative.
Miles’ trumpet sounds pierced through the mini-auditorium while scores of vinyl records were strewn about the floor in front of the four musicians (possibly in attempt for Miles to promote his garage sale today). Kids to parents, possibly grandparents to random fans and friends of the group created a diverse, all-ages audience. The event was not the best example of Reggie and Joc’s musical capabilities, as Miles noted to the crowd at one point. Joc’s scratching and turntable tricks were dished out in small doses, as a kind of occasional treat. Reggie’s keyboard play was on point and if you closed your eyes you would’ve never guessed Brandon Draper’s drumming style to be so erratic, a reflection of his mentioned musical upbringing that involved him literally beating on pots and pans as a youngster.
In a nutshell, the Kansas City Academy’s Grassroots concert series serves as a great platform for people of all ages to experience live local music without some d-bags hating from the opposite side of a would-be bar. But it was a Friday night after all. So I decided my next destination would be the Newsroom for the Vital Nerve 5 show in Midtown, a place that d-bags usually drive past on Broadway on their way to Westport on the weekends or to Power & Light. With Joc, Miles, Reggie and Brandon all being in their 30s (as far as I know), it was strange to see them able to pull off performing to an all-ages audience while the Vital Nerve crew attracting a very young crowd, were only allotted a 21+ show at the Newsroom.
The Newsroom’s crowd was much more exuberant and hip, and having the pool table removed from the upstairs was a plus with the Spring air circulating throughout the bar’s two levels, while the patio began to fill up at about 11 p.m. or so. Unlucky Menace and Strider really stole the part of the show that I was able to catch. Lawrencian, Strider, mixed some improv comedy bits between some honest, fiery tracks, culminating in one of the most enjoyable performances I’ve seen in a while. The smiles were abounding and the beer was flowing. The dichotomy between Vital Nerve and the non-alcoholic KC Academy show really hit me today, and I felt lucky to be able to catch two different styles of local hip hop in one night. Rest assured that Demencha does not plan on ceasing any respect for the seasoned icons of our local hip hop collective nor do we have any plans on discontinuing our passion, love and respect for the young guns on the come up.
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