For the second night in a row I got the chance to see an artist I'd first listened to a decade ago perform in the flesh for the first time. I'll admit, this time around I didn't have the same amount of endearment for this particular performer as I did for the one the night before, and much of his song material didn't really become relevant to me until about five years after I first heard it, but I still went into the experience with a great sense of wonder and excitement. As a bonus, the prelude to the main event was a showcase of local talent; one whom I've been waiting to see for a while, and the the other a new group to me, but a group which I became instantly fond of.
|GirlGrabbers - Qknox, GypDaHip & BrikAbrak|
That new group is called GirlGrabbers, a local Denver beat collective composed of Qnox, GypDaHip and BrikAbrak. In my preview, I mentioned they were a duo, but when it comes to live performance, Qnox and GypDaHip employs BrikAbrak to lay down scratches and cuts. These guys opened the show with sick beats and remixes by combining a keyboard synthesizer, an Ableton control surface, and turntables. Together they laid down beats reminiscent of something you'd hear at a Madlib, Jay Dee and RZA convention with the injection of a lot of old soul. These guys have great style and opened the show nicely with some new, unreleased material. If they find the right MC these guys could blow up huge, but they can still hold their own. Even if they stick to just releasing beat tapes, I'd rock them all day long.
It was earlier this year I'd first heard of Whygee, the next to take the stage. As soon as I found out about him I've been wanting to catch him live, narrowly missing him the couple other opportunities he'd performed. I was glad to catch him last night, and as soon as he began his set, he used his dynamic stage presence to reel everyone close to the stage. DJ BrikAbrak laid down the beats using an MPC and his turntables, and Whygee went straight into business mode. He's very likeable, an MC of the people as opposed to someone whose head is too huge that they come off arrogant, despite his ability to command the stage. I'm not yet familiar with his songs to tell you what he performed, but he was great at getting the audience into the performance. He would come right up to the edge of the stage and rile up the audience and when he got to the end of his set list, he kept it going one song further as BrikAbrak laid down an impromptu beat while Whygee delivered a freestyle. It was a short, but powerful set; more than enough that I'll actively seek out the next time he performs and hopefully he'll get a full time slot.
|Afroman's sweet kicks|
Finally, it was time for Afroman to take the stage. He brought with him a very simple setup; a mixer, an iPod, and a double-neck guitar. A white shirt with tan stripes, matching pants, and white leather shoes gave him a retro look. A heavy gold chain dressed his neck and a sparkling gold pot leaf dangled from the end of the golden rope. He had a short length afro and his face was wrapped in a short beard. Perhaps in an attempt to stay punctual despite the best efforts of a certain smokable plant, he wore a watch on either wrist; a shiny gold and diamond analog watch on his left wrist, and a simple black digital watch on his right. He picked up the microphone, and in a deep soft Teddy Pendergrass-like voice introduced himself to the ready crowd, while cycling through his iPod - with the scroll-wheel clicking sound still audible through the house speakers - to queue up his first beat.
Once he got the beats going, he started to rap in that laid back definitive Afroman style, and the crowd immediately loved it. The sense of excitement in the room was unreal. The venue wasn't at all packed tight last night, but there was as much enthusiasm in the Larimer Lounge as I'd seen in shoulder-to-shoulder packed sold out shows. It's as if much of the audience were like me, bumping Afroman songs for the past several years; first at high school house parties, then loudly in college dorms, and finally having it come full circle by partying right in front of and with the man responsible for it all.
|Afroman rocking the double-neck guitar|
Afroman took the crowd on a journey through the major stops in his musical catalog, digging way back to the beginning with hits like "Crazy Rap", and "She Won't Let Me Fuck" and mixing in some later songs as well. He talked about how he wrote his initial songs as a teenager, and how two decades later he still enjoys performing them because they still apply - it's party rap and it's all about going out and making fun happen. There was definitely fun going on last night - it was the haziest I've ever seen a venue. I didn't think it could get any hazier, but when Afroman ended the night with "Because I Got High" and a reprise of "Crazy Rap" that ended with an Afroman guitar solo, it most certainly did.
|The crowd went wild all night for Afroman|
Afroman's music may not be the most sophisticated or complex, but it's simple representation of party culture has endeared itself to an entire generation. His fun loving attitude and funky humorous songs have a special place in our culture, and those that accept Afroman's music for what it is understand it's about nothing more than having a good time. The crowd had the highest percentage of passionate audience members I've seen in a long time. Even Afroman himself had to say, "I can't believe this is Monday night. I've had more fun up here than I've had in front of a thousand people."
Afroman was just as gracious for the crowd reception he got as the patrons were gracious to witness his performance. He hung out after the show, allowing people to come up on stage for photographs and autographs. He was shaking hands and signing any and everything - posters, albums, people. He then humbly packed up his things and disappeared into the night in his tour van. It was definitely a unique experience, rife with nostalgia. Afroman performed with an incredibly likeable earnestness and certainly lived up to his expectations, especially if those expectations had been forming for a decade or more.
You can see more pictures from this show in the Facebook photo album. Don't forget to give the Concerted Effort page a 'like'!