The University of Nebraska - Lincoln University Program Council brought in Blue Scholars for a concert tonight at the Bourbon Theatre here in Lincoln. Needless to say, I was baffled by their fabulous selection.
Although I listen to a lot of hip-hop (small selection, but lots of playtime on my iPod), I have never been to a hip-hop show. I have always been afraid that the one DJ, one MC on stage might bore me after a while.
Sabzi and Geo did NOT disappoint though. Man, they held my attention and had me rocking around like a fool for a full hour and a half. They played a good sample from all their albums - some in condensed medley fashion. The show highlights were as follows:
1. North by Northwest. This was by far their strongest performance, and, by no coincidence, one of my favorite tracks of theirs.
2. Loyalty + a slowdown transition to Loyalty II. Geo rocked the transition and during the II part just spit the lyrics out with impecable flow.
3. When Geo stripped off his plaid flannel shirt to reveal a Nebraska shirt underneath. Since I was wearing a Death Cab shirt with the Seattle skyline on it, I felt it a nice exchanged gesture.
4. The debut of 4-5 new songs! They sounded great. To be honest, the OOF! EP didn't grab me as much as I had hoped, but the new tracks were great. They featured some of Sabzi newer more smooth production stylings, but (thankfully) saw the return of a more aggresive lyrical delivery by Geo.
A great show - plus the first they did in 2010 - plus they debuted some songs - plus it only cost me $5!
Drew Danburry's evolving discography has been an entertaining one to follow. His first 2004 release, "An Introduction to Sex Rock," was a fun, if not erratic and rambunctious, romp in what he coined "Kick@$$ Kindergarten Folk Pop Sing Along Music." As odd as the self-ascribed genre sounds, it actually is a fairly good summation of what Danburry's early work encompassed. His follow up LP, "Besides: Are we Just Playing Around Here or do we Mean What We Say," and EPs "Live in France!" and "Mother EP" followed largely in this trajectory - The latter EPs hinting at new directions. In 2008, his 3rd LP, "This Could Mean Trouble, You Don't Speek for the Club," revealed an artist truly coming into his own. Production value was much improved, instrumentation expanded, vocals refined and lyrics deepened in their sincerity. After another EP, "Geraniums" in 2009, recording a great daytrotter session and touring incessantly for who knows how many years (since about 2004 I think), Drew is back with his first of 2 scheduled LPs for 2010, "Goodnight Gary."
Though the albums listens true to his DIY roots, Goodnight Gary is the first of Danburry's releases that consistently hints at an evolved artist. Lo-fi sensibilities yet abound, but they linger as products of artistic choice rather than artistic budget gaps. The rawkus sing-along feel yet abounds. Yet, there are moments in this album that fully strip off the previous signature stylings of Danburry's bombastic and oft-unhinged musical antics - moments that sound nothing like Drew Danburry record. But, rather than sticking out as obtuse anomalies, they are well grounded in familiar landscapes. I am not one to make comparisons, but there were similar moments in the early works of Conor Oberst's Bright Eyes LPs (Fevers and Mirrors or Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil, Keep Your Ear To The Ground), when tracks with very rough edges were lifted by exultant moments of highly polished and well produced melodies. I hate comparison, but that is what comes to mind.
Danburry's Goodnight Gary will please his fan base. It is a record that all of his previous releases hinted at, but never fully delivered. Furthermore, it will prove a more accesible LP for new listeners.