Since my colleague Nick Feldman pulled an all-nighter and beat me to the punch by posting a missive on last night’s Freeway show at Chop Suey (scroll down), and since his pictures make my feeble attempts at photojournalism look like Civil War sketches, I’ll limit my brief discussion of the festivities to three subjects: Devon Manier of Sportin’ Life Records, Cancer Rising, and, of course, me.
So let’s begin with the most important subject--yours truly. Yesterday, July 12, marked my 28th year aimlessly skulking around this strange little planet like a character in a Paul Bowles novel, and today marks Larry Mizell Jr. of that other alt-weekly and Cancer Rising’s b-day. I only mention this cosmic alliance of near-coincidence to assure you, my anxious and concerned readership, that last night’s encounter between Larry and me at the Freeway shindig didn’t result in injury, as was unfortunately the case last time, perhaps because we were both drunk on life--and Pabst. So, to celebrate the fickle flipping of the calendar pages, and to assuage the animosity between us that resulted from the grievous injury I suffered at the toe of his designer tennis shoe, Larry bought me a shot of Jim Beam following his all-too-short opening performance.Did you detect that blue-note of regret? You’re so observant, because, indeed, I did long for a longer set by Larry and friends, known to the great unwashed as Cancer Rising. It was the first time I’ve seen them, and I must say that the dudes more than lived up to the hype--they burst its thermometer. Part Beastie Boys, part J-5, and all funky-soul, Cancer Rising is that rare entity in contemporary hip-hop that not only appreciates the genre’s past, but also revels in it. At the same time, they somehow manage to build on history without squashing it, a feat worthy of a hear-hear and a more in-depth acknowledgement than I am currently capable of generating. Nice job, fellas.
On to Devon. Perhaps it’s the fact that I just celebrated a birthday, or that I’ve put a large amount of psychic and spatial space between my former life as a nightclub reporter in Las Vegas and my current life as a reclusive scribbler, both of which have inspired a pitiful amount of backward-glancing and tearful contemplation, but I’ve been thinking a lot about scenes lately--how they form, how they maintain, how they rise with each passing gathering. And I’ve come to this conclusion: artistic movements don’t exist without people like Sportin’ Life’s Devon Manier.
You can see him at the shows, bobbing his head stageside, sharing a drink with lowly freelance writers at the bar, and ducking off behind closed doors to check up on his young artists, making sure things are cool. He’s a presence, in other words, a dude to be counted on to do that which no one else wants to--organize shit. So here’s to the organizer and the MCs he books. May there be many more.
P.S. I promised a review of Wizdom's new CD, and, once again, I'm a little late. Do forgive me. It will be coming soon.