MUSIC REVIEW- Jumpin' and jivin': Through the portal to novelty
It was like jumping through the dimensional portal in Stargate SG-1. On one side, a universe of alien creatures. Barren land. Only a few life forms wandering around, for the most part in their own little spheres of existence, a few emitting odd sounds, their meaning unintelligible.
On the other side of the portal was a densely populated universe with multitudes convened in a large group. The creatures seemed to immensely enjoy extremely loud bass in extremely heavy music.
Leaping back and forth from Starr Hill Music Hall to the Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar felt more like a dream than reality. I was Richard Dean Anderson, the former master of makeshift nick-of-time lifesaving inventions, trying to observe and understand phenomena in parallel universes. Unfortunately, I had to leave my big ass guns at home.
Improperly armed, I first stumbled through the portal into Starr Hill. A roar from the crowd signaled approval of Portland-based do-good rap group Lifesavas. The three-man collective controlled the crowd with cuts from their first full-length album, Spirit In Stone.
Lifesavas are like rap music on ecstasy. When they're on stage, everything is all good all the time. Their beats are standard west coast boom-bap style: they choose a stellar sample and fit the right drum/bass pattern into it. But I honestly can't take it for more than a few songs. It just gets repetitive.
The Lifesavas are incredible emcees in the classic sense. Their songs are very well crafted almost flawless as if inspired from an unseen source. A large group of the audience even knew the words. I was shocked to see that an underground group so far from home had such a following.
I can stand only so much "comfort and joy" hip-hop before I begin suffering from colon cramping, so I jumped back through my dimensional portal to the polar opposite end of the musical spectrum.
Eastern Standard Time was just laying out their first few notes as I arrived at TBTB. Truth be told, I was a bit shocked at the group's first few compositions. Since the death of Ornette Coleman, I didn't believe anyone listened to avant-garde jazz much less played the stuff in public. But there stood in front of me a trio of drums, upright, and sax. And they were definitively two feet into the avant pool.
From what I understand, this type of jazz is not meant to be listened to; it's meant to be felt. Better than that, the point is for it to become a sheet of sound that forms a background to the subconscious, much like white noise. Although I thought many of their compositions were a bit ballsy, I do have to say that the trio is doing something no one else here is doing. They're the anti-jazz of Charlottesville.
There wasn't much of a turnout for Eastern Standard. In truth, it doesn't matter how long these guys play or how much tighter they get, they will never see a real crowd. Avant garde jazz is a dead protest, something like campaigning for the right to reclaim Manhattan for the Native Americans. No one is really going to listen, unfortunately. Even I had to jump back through the portal after 45 minutes.