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People Under the Stairs, Kenan Bell, Budo and Grieves, D-Tension - Jan 23rd Middle East Downstairs

Starting the set was a cat out of Lowell, MA: D-Tension. I’ll admit that beforehand, I had very little faith in this man’s ability to rap (and, even more so, his ability to perform) based the silliness of his name and his hometown. It would only be after his set was over that I’d realize how mistaken I’d been; how pseudonyms are rarely ever indicative of ability, no matter how bizarre or obnoxious they might seem (cf. Ol’ Dirty Bastard, Jay Electronica) and how where a performer comes from doesn’t really matter. Even if not many MCs have come from there before.

Admittedly, the fact that he didn’t do much but stand at center stage, wireless mic in hand, annoyed me somewhat. But, for the first time in a while, I really didn’t care. He was just too damn nice. Spitting 92-era lyrics over productions which seemed like they had spawned from Ali Shaheed Muhammad’s twenty-year-old fingertips (though this is very unlikely, I understand), D-Tension had me laughing. And not in a condescending way; it might be easy for some to mock this acknowledged self-deprecator with beats like a school kid and raps like “Ya Mama”, but if you were paying attention at all to D-Tension’s set you would’ve realized how genuinely happy the guy was to be there, spitting his rhymes, opening for People Under the Stairs. He never once broke stride: two-and-a-half-minute song, banter, two-and-a-half-minute song ad infinitum. In a rap world where self-propagation often leads to straight up falsehood, it’s nice to see someone not care if he’s not on top of the world and have some fun with hip hop.

I don’t have much to say about Budo and Grieves’ . Honestly, the only thing that struck me about this set was how UN-struck I was, which was strange, because Budo’s music still attracts me to the point of repeat-playing. I guess I’ll just have to see them again.

On a track, Kenan Bell sports deft lyrical control with a voice so high up in his sinuses sometimes it sounds like the guy could use a good nose-blowin’. I really didn’t know what to expect from Kenan Bell, beyond several well-produced songs and a quick tongue on the mic. What followed was a set that I can say was the best I’ve seen at the Middle East Downstairs, hip-hop-wise.  And, lest I forget, his band played some damn funky music right from the get-go ( opened with “Joy and Pain”) and didn’t let up ‘till the half hour was done. The bass was pulsing so hard I swear I felt like I was getting a defibrillator shock four times per measure.

People Under the Stairs played a magnificent set which I doubt will be topped by any I see for a long time. They used the audience, encouraging participation but without resorting to those old-pony tricks ("Everybody say yeah" was as close as it got to being 1987, and only for a minute) and they made the people at the ME get  down. Jam.

--Daniel Schneider

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A quick look outside your local scene: The other Deli Best of 2009 Polls

Rockers, Folkers and Poppers of all ages, sexes and hair colors,

The Deli's regional Year End Best of Polls for emerging artists are finally over and it's time to have a quick look at what's going on outside your local scene. Here's a recap of the winners of our nine polls with links to overall charts and readers' polls results:

AUSTIN - Winner: Stereo Is a Lie
Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

CHICAGO - Winner: I Fight Dragons

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart

LOS ANGELES - Winner: Local Natives

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart

NASHVILLE - Winner: Those Darlins

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart

NEW ENGLAND- Winner: Mean Creek

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

NYC - Winner: Talk Normal

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

PORTLAND - Winner: Explode into Colors

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

PHILLY - Winner: Reading Rainbow

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

SF BAY AREA - Winner: Girls

Overall Chart
- Readers Chart - list of jurors

The Deli's Staff





Brendan Hoagan CD Release for Long Night Coming at Lizard Lounge on the 29th

Cambridge Singer-songwriter, Brendan Hogan will be playing at the Lizard Lounge on the 29th to celebrate the release of his first full-length album Long Night Coming.The Lizard Lounge is a very appropriate place to have the release party for Hogan, since it is the same venue he started up in, playing open-mics and sitting in with other bands.

If you like Bob Dylan you'll love Long Night Coming The album is mostly soft and very pretty with light country and Celtic accents. Some songs like "Rock Cast in the Sea" and "Big Black Car" are larger and more swingin'. "Rock Cast into the Sea" is a fast, accordion-involved piece and really stands out on the album which shows Hogan's versatility. All the lyrics are balladic or poetic and finely composed. The title track "Long Time Coming" is a beautiful and metaphoric piece, with soft but soulful vocals. The first line of the song explains the album cover, Hogan causally posed in front of the Somerville Theater.

The thing I  like about this album is the dynamic of the lyrics and music. The lyrics are incredibly dire at times, but it doesn't mater because the music that floats around the words is hopeful. (Think Dylan's "It's All Over Now, Baby Blue" or "Most of the Time")

Should be a great show and I bet you a million bucks there will be lots of special guests, local folks and lots of beer. A perfect show to see to top of the awesome month of January (honestly though, there have been some great shows this month.) Also a great album to get you through the epic awesomeness of February in New England.

--Meghan Chiampa

 

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Lawrence Welks & Our Bear 2X "Cam Couger" CD Release 1.23

Burlington's premier basement dwelling cacophonizers are releasing their newest offering Cam Couger tomorrow night at Enter aka The Bakery. The festivities are under way at 9pm and others from Burlington's experimental offering will be slicing your head wide open all night: Chubby Wonder (Nosebleed Island), Caring Babies, and tooth ache.

--The Deli Staff

 

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Haiti Relief Show @ Radio Bean 1.23

Maga, evilhero, and Sad Bastards will be playing at the bean tomorrow from 11pm to close to raise funds for the Hatian Earthquake relief effort. Wild sounds will be made to fuel this fundraiser. Head down the Bean to attend Burlington's part in relief via music.

Radio Bean
8 N. Winooski Ave.
Burlington, VT 05404

--The Deli Staff

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