So the day after Beezy’s birthday (which was a blast, but ended with us getting our camera equipment stolen and, ultimately, landed me in the hospital), Lushlife, Cities Aviv, Ante Meridian, Dinero Ferrer and Floco Torres played at The Masquerade. Seeing as how I felt like I was dying, I’m still amazed I even made it there.
I wandered in a little late so, unfortunately, I missed Floco Torres. I’d never heard of him so I wasn’t sure if I missed anything major, but getting constant shout outs all night made me thing that maybe I did. When I walked in, the first person I saw was my man, Fort Knox, on stage tasked with the difficult job of trying to get the crowd hype. Now, some of you may ask why this job would be so hard. That would be because there were all of 17 people in the audience. This has long been an issue with Atlanta indie shows. I’m not sure if the low turnout is a result of general fan apathy or a complete lack of promotion. I’d more likely lean towards the latter just based on the fact that if I didn’t check Twitter or The Masquerade’s website I wouldn’t know about any shows that came through the city. The days of printing up fliers and personally distributing them are long gone. What we’re seeing now, I believe, is a result of that. Soapbox rant over…moving on to details about the show.
The first act I saw step on the stage was Ante Meridian. I’d actually never heard of these guys before, but, after this show, they definitely walked away with a new fan. The reason being this simple statement MC Rozewood made: “This is what we do. Whether there’s one person or 1000 people, we’re gonna rock.” Judging by what I saw, this was definitely not just lip-service. Rozewood performed like he was playing to a packed out coliseum. It’s clear to me that he takes the art of MC’ing very seriously and believes in giving his audience a good show. The overall sound of these guys reminded me, at times, of Wu and even older Jeru or Nas. They had that nice grimy mid 90’s feel so if you enjoy that sound you’ll definitely enjoy them. Rozewood is a dope MC dropping lines like “I’m a dragon with eight heads all breathing fire at the same time. Best to play dead.” And I can’t talk about Ante Meridian’s show without mentioning the skills of DJ Mr. Enok. This guy was a beast on the wheels, which perfectly complimented Rozewood’s style on the mic. Overall, I was definitely happy to have these guys start my night off and would be more than willing to see them again.
The next person to hit the stage was a rapper named Deniro Farrar. Unfortunately, I started feeling sick during this time and had to go outside and get some air so I missed quite a bit of his performance. Based on what I saw I’d have to say that he didn’t really fit the bill. And this has nothing to do with his talent. It had more to do with his style. He was more on the deep South style of hip hop which differed quite a bit from the other acts. He spit introspective hood raps or a variety of beats that I could imagine on any Jeezy mixtape. I don’t listen to that much Southern hip hop, but if that’s your thing then I’d suggest checking him out. What I took away from his live show is that he is extremely passionate about what he does and seems genuinely appreciative of any attention he received. During and after his performance he repeatedly thanked the audience for watching, which I really appreciated.
Next to hit the stage was Cities Aviv. Being a big fan of his Digital Lows record, I was really excited to see him live. I was slightly torn on how to word his performance, because I’m such a fan of his, but I have to be honest. Even though, before he even went on, Cities Aviv didn’t seem into it, his set started off pretty dope. The beats were loud and he was rapping just as loud and aggressively. At one point he even jumped into the crowd trying to rile people up a bit while yelling the lyrics “don’t take it personal.” Alas, it kind of tapered off from there. He seemed a bit upset that the turnout was so small and made a few sarcastic comments towards the audience like “Yeah, we’re still here…unfortunately.” Sure, he was being tongue-in-cheek, but that combined with his lackluster performance definitely gave the impression that he was over this show. For the rest of his time on stage, he kind of stumbled through songs as if he really didn’t care. Having technical difficulties after knocking his equipment onto the floor, I’m sure, didn’t help. This turned into the feeling you get of watching a really bad movie in the theater. You paid for it so you feel like you owe it to yourself to finish watching it, but, at the same time, you’re not getting anything positive from it at all so you feel like leaving. The only person into the set was the DJ and all he was doing was hitting buttons on a Macbook. But at least he had energy and seemed enthusiastic about performing for us. All of this isn’t to shit on Cities Aviv. I’m still a fan and I understood his frustration. But don’t take out the fact that others didn’t show up on the audience that did. It’s not our fault. Make us feel like you appreciated us bothering to get in our cars, drive here and pay admission to see you play. Don’t make us regret the trip and feel like we’re wasting our time. That being said, I’ll move on to the performance of the night.
Lushlife took the stage next with an elaborate set up of electronic equipment and a projection screen. From that moment I knew I was in for something special and…holy shit, was I right. Lushlife is the epitome of the statement “don’t judge a book by its cover.” He’s a pretty little guy that looks rather non-threatening and unassuming, but once he started in with “Magnolia” it was clear that he was not fucking around. Everything about his performance screamed ENERGY! Like Ante Meridian before him, he performed his songs like there were millions of faces staring back at him. He ran through a full set of songs from Plateau Vision, Cassette City and even some really old material. And you wanna talk about dope? How about when he built the Dead Presidents beat up live in front of us and then spit the verses over it? The best part is the fact that he performed everything so well that, while watching him, I completely forgot that I was ever sick. And that’s no bullshit. I was literally so entranced by Lushlife’s live performance that every aspect of me feeling physically sick was gone. He did everything from rhyming flawlessly to playing the beats on the MPC to even playing digital drums with drum sticks. And after almost every song he performed, he genuinely thanked the audience for staying and watching. Lushlife completely decimated the small audience watching him at The Masquerade leaving me an even bigger fan than I was before. And upon meeting him after the show and having him ask me how I was feeling (after remembering a tweet I sent about my earlier ordeal) I was convinced that this is the type of artist that lots of performers should look to. A performer who genuinely enjoys performing and cares about displaying his craft to the audience in the most positive manner possible. Major shoutouts to Lushlife for putting on one of the best shows I’ve seen in a few months and I look forward to seeing him play Atlanta again. Hopefully, next time, the promoters actually do some promotion and get some more bodies in the room to witness it.