Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Clash Wednesday, Clash Corn

A side dish to the Clash Wednesday Benefit Show main course.

When I got into the car of Shadcore, I was just happy as a non-driver to be getting a way home. It's a constant struggle and work of negotiation in a place like Tampa Bay, trying not to be an inconvenience to your friends and acquaintances, and a nice guy like Rashad helps massively. What I was not expecting was a trip down nourishment lane! One crucial element in being a humble hitcher is flowing with the motorists schedule, so I raised no objection when Rashad asked if I minded stopping to see some cousins of his before they left town.

After a shot of wine made from grapes grown in his families own backyard, it dawned on me just how large the zip lock of corn was. I'd accepted it without viewing the dose, but it was no mistake. Three days and two thirds into the bag my girlfriend and I are still trying to judo the stuff down. It's gone into sandwiches, tacos, the side of fries and eaten by its cobby self. The mac and cheese that Shadcore's mother makes was devoured within the hour of leaving its mother kitchen, totally justifying its position in the rappers lyrics sheet. Such generous genes is surely the kind of thoughtfulness that led me to get a lift in the first place.

Music and food, bringing people together since Clash Wednesday!
The Clash Wednesday Benefit Show
Sunday, 19th April 2015
The Palladium Side Door, St. Petersburg FL

When you redefine hip hop, the philosophical among us may ask, are you keeping that hip hop real?  The Real Clash are a real band really crossing genres beyond the usual rap/rock equation.  They make songs about real important things with real intent, but without mistaking that for the real work required by today's social movements.  They're inspiring yet humble, in other words.  They're keeping it real though inaccurate, holding this Clash Wednesday album fundraiser on a Sunday, in a fancy venue called the Side Door that patrons don't even enter through the side of the building.  How fancy? The candles on each of the round, linen-covered tables here apparently aren't real, but the provided snacks definitely are.

La Lucha might sound a little fancier and more sophisticated than if their name was in English, but irrespective of that, their music fits the atmosphere at this Palladium bonus stage seamlessly.  It feels like a cool and dark New Orleans bar upon walking in. A jazz trio at heart (winning Best of the Bay in 2013 and 2014), the international sometimes-cover band incorporates in pop, funk, Latin music, EDM warbles and trip-hoppy bits of ginger instrumentation.  To that end they also sometimes incorporate singer Jun Bustamante and her arresting voice. She even sings arrestingly on a Police cover: "Can't Stand Losing You" comes at the end of both this set and La Lucha's new album Standards, Not-Standards.  See Zero Warning's recent video interview with Jun Bustamante here.

Next is another group of Danny Piechocki Birthday Experience 2.1 alumni, Lions After Dark (LAD).  He's only gone and shown up here as a guest bassist as well.  This lot are again primed for this satisfyingly dim little location, not just in their name but in their current sound.  LAD since I last saw them have gotten heavier, verging on hardcore, punk and sludge metal at times, with feedback, and screams from vocalist Maddie Pfeiffer.  That's not to say there aren't still moments of restraint and breath catching. During the track 'Casper' the band invites Jay and Rashad from The Real Clash up to give us a bridge-based preview of what's coming next.  Member of both acts Andrew Roden kind of encapsulates where LAD seem to have gone between his need for two guitars (one is apparently named 'Sparkly') and his Henry Rollins t-shirt. 'Let's Start A War' becomes My War.

While I wouldn't quite describe TRC as militant, they seem a bit like a battalion right now, with 2 rows of 4 members lined up, ready to get on to the task at hand.  The hacky sack kicked around during the strangely dramatic intro indicates more of a lean towards 3 Feet High and Rising than The 3rd World, with Jay Acolyte continuing to blur lines amid his touching Star Wars geekery (Darth Vader shirt, verse about the new trailer in his LAD rap).  To reference another band tag line, is this what hip hop looks like in 2015?  Part of the reason there are so many people here is the sheer number of guests.  There's DJ Rahim Samad, putting well placed scratches throughout the set, violinist Fae Nageon de Lestang from Gainseville's Flat Land, and wind instrument teachers David R. Manson and Austin Vickrey.  (After forming at SPC, it seems The Real Clash can't help but stay close -- The Palladium is owned by the college, these teachers employed by it.)  "Imagine a tambourine with them" says the ever-inclusive Shadcore. No wonder this album has taken a while to put together; just the costs of sandwiches at rehearsal alone must cost a small fortune.  New features include a reworking of 'Stupid,' sexy additions to other older tracks courtesy of the horny horns and a song about shady show promoters taking advantage of artists. Despite all of the instrumentation the vocals are clearer, including those of tonight's third strong female lead, Eliana Blanchard.  Perhaps this could be considered something of a backfire as the many musicians attempt not to stand on each others toes, but the last song at least is nice and loud.

I want to clarify what I wrote in the introduction about The Real Clash and their place as a conscious act.  Even as they begin to organise a benefit for Nepal on June 27th, sales from their shirts and track Embrace are still going towards recovery efforts after 2013's typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines, long after the media has left.  They publicise this long-term thinking in the run-up to and during their own album fundraiser, unworried that it might delay their aspirations as artists, modestly ranking needs above their own.  They are fusing culture to society and not pretending soundtrack alone is enough. They are doing the real work. For this reason you should support them with real money, so that they can continue to make art with real connections to the real world.