It’s Friday night and a large crowd is gathering out on a New Orleans street in the warehouse district waiting to see ‘Black Star,’ the musical collaboration of hip hop artists Mos Def and Talib Kweli. Suddenly a trumpet sounds and draws everyone’s attention to the middle of the crowd. The Hot8 Brass Band begin to play with the traditional New Orleans beat and the words ‘I lit that fire, I lit that fire!’
A few songs and one crazy dance circle later the band begins to move towards the door of The Sugar Mill, a moody warehouse with no furnishings except for an amazing lighting rig and a raised stage. Upon entering through the giant warehouse doors you get an eerie sense of anticipation as you squint through the thick haze generated by the abundant smoke machines.
The Hot8 Brass Band continue to play on stage until seamlessly moving onto the next act of the night, strangely enough a band who were not on the bill and didn’t tell the audience their name… But in any case they got the crowd worked up with an energetic soul/funk set and had the most suave drummer I have ever seen, drumming away in a fancy suit.
Galactic then took to the stage with what was an impressive and highly organized set of their unique rock come jazz music with all members hitting every tune with immense energy . It was definitely one of the best lighting designs I’ve seen at a live show, every band hit was met with an awesome burst of light and the stage looked phenomenal. Their guest vocalist from the band ‘Life in Colour’ put on an fantastic performance, hitting amazing high notes and getting the crowd worked up while jumping up and down on speaker stacks.
The audience went crazy when Black Star came on stage and Mos Def and Talib Kweli . We’re both obviously excited to be there. They opened with a special tribute for Beastie Boys rapper Adam Yauch who sadly passed away that day and this immediately had the audience and the artists connecting emotionally. They followed with their original tracks in which the beats were fat and they each rapped with precision and emotion. They were truly performing for the audience as opposed to for themselves as I feel many artists unfortunately often do. Some issues with the sound made some aspects of the performance difficult for Black Star but they powered through, determined to provide the audience with a good show and that they certainly did. The audience was crazy for them and the vibe and energy in the room was awesome. I felt that both Mos Def and Talib Keweli were authentic and ‘real,’ that they were rapping about things that actually mattered to them and not what they thought listeners may want to hear. They made the audience feel appreciated and included throughout the whole performance and everyone left the show ecstatic.