Immense coolness in all things this past weekend. Open Studios kicked off. Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in SF. George Carlin at the Civic.
First off, thanks go out to Santa Cruzan Cody Townsend for his report on the Atmosphere show Saturday at the Catalyst. Here’s Cody’s take:
“With modern rap being bogged down in a rut of synthetic sounds, lackluster lexicons and party anthems, the same rut that killed ’80s hair metal, it’s impressive to see a show that defines why hip-hop can be the most creative form of music today. Covering a wide array of styles and ethnicities, the “Everbody Loves a Clown” tour showed how versatile hip-hop truly is.
“With the Catalyst crowd nearly at capacity for the opening act, Mac Lethal started off by impressively whipping the crowd into a smooth bounce. Lukyiam, came in next with a set the went from heartfelt hymns to old-school styles. The surprise act of the night, Grayskul, spit out fiery raps mixed whirlwind rhymes and a blend of inventive beats. Yet the show truly belonged to Atmosphere. Playing with a five piece band, Slug
(Sean Daley) sung, rapped and vocalized with enough soul to fill the gaping void present in all of Pop-Rap. The crowd went from dancing grooves to frozen trances in a matter of moments as he quickly transformed styles throughout the set. From upbeat songs like “Sunshine” to the hauntingly poetic ‘The Woman with the Tattoed Hands’ Atmosphere was running away with title as the best in underground Hip-Hop.”
Thanks, Cody. Onto Carlin. Maybe the most high-profile 1960s-style counterculture figure still working in show business today, Carlin came to Santa Cruz Sunday night, performing in front of a house at the Civic was just more than half-full, a shocking lack of draw from a stand-up comedy legend. The previous time Carlin came to Santa Cruz, I heard from folks who went that the old man had lost his comic edge and was not just angry. On Sunday, Carlin did little to rehab that reputation. He wasn’t angry, but his material felt a bit tired. At one point, he told the crowd that he was going to tell three of the most disgusting jokes he’s ever told, and he was true to the point. I not only won’t repeat them here, I’m actively trying to forget them.
Hardly Strictly Bluegrass in Golden Gate Park was, to trot out the most abused adjective of our age, awesome. Five stages, some of the greatest musical acts playing today, in the beautiful October sunshine, in the park in the middle of one of the world’s most beautiful cities, all for free? It sounds like a dream and it felt like that as well. Some of my favorites included Nick Lowe — the silver-haired devil writes such tasty melodies — great, old John Prine and the luminous Michelle Shocked, who, during her great song “Come a Long Way” reached an ecstatic state that really spread through the crowd. A fabulous event.
Interestingly, Hardly Strictly has a decided Santa Cruz tilt, thanks to KPIG which has its tentacles deep into the show. One of the stages was named for the late Laura Ellen Hopper, KPIG’s founder, and many of KPIG’s on-air people, from Ralph Anybody to Sleepy John Sandidge introduced the acts.
Mark out the first weekend of October right now for next year. Be there. You won’t be sorry.