On Monday, November 14, the Blue Scholars headlined a concert in the Hall of Presidents (HOP). The Seattle duo is comprised of MC Geologic and DJ Sabzi, who met at the University of Washington, and derives its name from the term “blue collar.” The group’s sound is characterized by alternative stylings and conscious lyrics; simultaneously cerebral and laid back.
The night kicked off at 8:30 p.m. when doors opened. Students trickled in, trickled out and trickled back in again, seemingly cautious at showing up unfashionably early. At around 9:00 p.m., the show commenced with an assortment of opening acts, some rapping, some guitar and a lot of bass. The highlight of the student acts had to be the performance of Dinosaur Collective member sophomore Brandon Plass, performing the track “When I Blow Up.” An interesting sample, solid beat and rapid-fire delivery make it an auspicious introduction for the young rapper. Following the students was Bambu, who opened for the Scholars throughout their national tour, which they wrapped up at the Bowery Ballroom in New York City on November 11. He is a Los Angeles native and a veteran of the Marine Corps who, like the Scholars, is known for his socially conscious and emotionally charged lyrics. At various times in his performance decrying the injustices of poverty and domestic violence, Bambu was never full of himself. He engaged the audience, cracked jokes and even invited a guest DJ up to the stage (DJ Boxers, also known as sophomore Jackson Leeds). As far as opening acts go, Bambu was top notch.
With the crowd energized by the opening acts to such an extent that an extremely lively dance circle evolved, the Blue Scholars took the stage. After a little self-indulgent boasting, the set started off with the title track of their 2011 album Cinemetropolis. The duo, who have been performing together since 2002, had great chemistry on stage and with each successive song got the crowd a little more riled up. Speaking of the crowd, it should be noted that there wasn’t much of one from a numbers perspective. The crowd stood huddled immediately around the stage, not extending very far back into the cavernous HOP. It can probably be chalked up to a collective ” case of the Mondays” among the student body. However, those who made it down were there to have a good time. Be it by responding to allegations of pretension made by a Cornell student as told by Sabzi, by participating in the aforementioned frenetic dance circle or by jumping up on stage, Colgate was showing love to the Scholars. The Seattle duo surely felt it because they seemed completely comfortable on stage and developed a real rapport with the crowd. Hip-hop concerts are at their best when there is an intangible energy running through the venue; when the crowd is feeling the music and the performers are feeling the crowd. The duo took the small venue to its advantage, doing a show that went beyond merely exhibiting their music. This concert was a real event.
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