I’m the first to admit that of all the musical genres I have experienced hip hop is one I’ve had trouble getting to grips with and, if nothing else, I’m happy to say that I think tonight I came a little closer.
The night started out with DJ 4Q on the decks spinning a selection of sounds that got heads (including mine) nodding around the venue, though many seemed content to experience it as background music.
4Q’s selection, while unfamiliar to me, certainly set the scene for what was to come.
The first live act of the night was a reduced version of Guernsey’s own hip hop contingent, Asylum Seekas. Appearing as just a two-piece DJ and MC line up tonight, the duo once again impressed with their skills both lyrically and musically.
Jimi Riddlz unique charisma came across much more tonight than when the Asylum Seekas are in full force and it also served to demonstrate his skill as an MC more than I had previously appreciated.
By the end of their set some in the steadily growing crowd had started to head out of the shadows onto the dancefloor and, combined with 4Q’s earlier sounds, everyone seemed ready for the double-header main event.
It was the duo of Dr Syntax and DJ Woody who started off the twin headliners. Similar in set up to tonight’s Asylum Seekas from the off Dr Syntax grabbed the audience and drew them in, following an 8-bit intro from DJ Woody.
Dr Syntax was certainly my highlight of the evening and served to help me experience what I had heard about hip hop in the past with relation to its similarity to punk rock in ethos (once you get away from the posing and ‘bling-encrusted’ reputation it has gained in the mass media).
Throughout the set Dr Syntax at once straddled the boundary of being both self-confident and self-deprecating expertly, combining stories of his life with a knowing humour and pop-culture references aplenty.
While my knowledge of DJing techniques may not be all it could, it was still clear the work DJ Woody was doing on the decks was of an extremely high level and provided an excellent backing to Syntax’s vocal and lyrical skills and, when he busted out his scratching, it was clear why he has been so highly praised around the world.
Another thing that struck me about Syntax, as an aside, was the similarity he bore, in places, to Attila The Stockbroker, who I’ve also seen grace the Fermain’s stage, once again bridging the gap in my mind between punk, poetry and hip hop.
Tonight’s second headliners, Fingathing, I will admit to having not heard much about, but all I had heard was good and I wasn’t disappointed.
Combining a DJ and an electric double bass led to a sound that was unlike anything I had ever heard before as the beats and melodies within the DJ side of things mixed with slapping, plucking and bowing from the other.
While Syntax had the crowd enraptured and moving, Fingathing seemed to instill more a sense of fascination and awe to start with as the musos in the audience watched the work from both musicians intently.
As the set went on however people started moving as their infectious beats and rhythms spread throughout the Tavern to really provide a brilliantly well-rounded show all from within the same genre.
While I take on every gig as a learning experience it seems DJ Oneofakind and co’s Get Down events always help to expand my musical vocabulary and tonight was no different, in fact, if anything, it did more of a job of this than any other and, beyond my personal growth, it was a great show that once again saw The Fermain Tavern busy and bouncing to yet more great music.