Jon Poilpre ’15
Last Saturday, a diverse amalgam of singers, dancers, instrumentalists, thinkers, bikers, chefs and merchants began orbiting their creative and intriguing bodies around the Sun God, Ra, that is Mahall’s in Lakewood. This solar system was known as the Lakewood Music Fest, and although it was not as celestial as the planetary Solar System, it was no less spectacular.
Mahall’s is a bowling alley, bar and mostly concert venue that hosts musicians on its many stages throughout the year. It is very open to local bands or performers, but also brings in more renowned national acts as well.
Attending the Lakewood Music Fest, an event that brings together local vendors and food trucks in addition to performers, was a unique experience in itself. However, I will instead focus on a few standout musicians who performed at the LKWD Music Fest in efforts to spread their talents and message to a wider audience. Here are some stellar bands:
Analog Fantom– Analog Fantom is the project of Ed Rodgers, a Clevelander who “makes beats and then rhymes over them”. He played in the Locker Room stage, which is a fairly small stage in the basement of Mahall’s where the performer’s are very close to the audience. The musk of the space complemented his sound, which is a heavy kind of hip hop. He also had a touch of galaxy in his beats, and they really filled up the room. The only critique was that I couldn’t always understand what he was saying.
Djapo Djembe Orchestra + Dancers– This is internationally recognized group of traditional African musicians and dancers. The Djapo organization calls for individuals from backgrounds to look for their similarities and recognize their differences. This was especially apparent at their live show, where their happy raucous was lassoing in all types of people to listen and dance. Their combination spirit, energy and cultural pureness went unmatched at LKWD Music Fest.
The Coup– Playing on the outdoor stage right before the night’s headliner, The Coup’s performance prowess demanded your attention. This funk/punk/hip-hop/soul group is highly politicized, with most of their songs focusing on the topic of the class [socio-economic] war. Boots Riley, the bands self-identified-Communist frontman, is the only musician revealed by the website Wikileaks to have been being investigated by U.S. intelligence. This political energy was displayed in their live show, an area which the band had a high level of experience in. The characters onstage were entirely engrossing, compelling me to almost spontaneously start a labor union right there.
GZA– Even an hour before he took the stage, “Wu-Tang” chants were exploding all over the crowd. The festival’s headliner and former member of the Wu-Tang Clan, GZA, walked up on the stage with just a mic and a beats-man, suggesting it was going to be a more low-key show. And it was, in comparison to what a Wu-Tang Clan member’s show would’ve been in the 90’s. However, GZA really connected with the audience, talking to them in between songs and portraying a relaxed demeanor. He spoke heavily about the singular importance of the music, regardless of genre or artist, and that that is what should be an artist’s driving force. The experienced wordsmith talked as if his life was a spoken word performance, giving off a hardened but compassionate attitude that brought the Solar System to a satisfying end.