So, when I was hooked up with this show, I was generally excited, but didn't have any idea what was in store. I brought along my lovely wife, hoping not only to impress her as a snooty bigtime journalist, but perhaps take advantage of her razor wit.
The first thing to mention is the format of this concert series, a collaboration with vitaminwater and FADER- the Uncapped shows are in most cases a juxtaposition of two artists- one indie rock and one hiphop. Now, I know... sounds like a recipe for either awkward or awesome. You know, like the Judgement Night soundtrack. Actually, it works.
Immediately I knew that this was going to be an interesting night. The venue, instead of being a club or random warehouse, was actually kind of both. It's a place called Lumberyard MTB over off 82nd, a brand new combination indoor bike park/pub. So yes, I love Portland. Now, when I say it was both, this is what I mean:
The whole place was like that- a combination of raver candybeams and non-Euclidean geometry. Disorienting, but cool. There was an instant photo spot, libations, and guardrails everywhere, surrounded by a ton of people wandering here and there, with a palpable buzz.
And the people! There were a living crapload of people, the vast majority of whom were not bloggers. The crowd was that perfect melange of ages and cultures that you only see as extras in stock photography. And the energy was building.
It's this energy that really made the night for me. In so many of the concerts I take in, there's a sort of restless nonchalance. You know what I'm talking about. Not here, as I would soon see. While waiting for the first band, Kayla and I met some nice hipster kids who were admiring her tattoos, and pretty soon we realized that these hipster kids were big fantasy nerds, and I got one of them stoked about my upcoming novel. We decided to do a photo swap, so here is Kayla with our new friends.
The first act came on- Best Coast, out of Miami. I'm not sure why this concert series is flinging artists all the hell around the country, but it's a cool idea. Kayla, determined to get some sass in, offered this about the indie rockers: "Pretty cool for a bunch of Rilo Kiley ripoffs." Which is pretty high praise from her. I agreed- Best Coast was pretty cool, but somehow they seemed a little mismatched with the room. With a crowd that hyped up, anything less than manic could possibly come off as flat.
After a brisk set, Best Coast left us in the hands of the venue's DJ, who had a nice mix going, and we all hung around to make small talk. Just kidding, 75 percent of the people there went outside to smoke and left us inside to enjoy the sudden welling up of fresh air and 3G bandwidth. People began to file back in, and as the PA blew through "Gold Digger," "Poison," and Kayla's fave "Jane Fonda," we noticed that our hipster friends were tearing up the dancefloor. Yes, boogying the fuck down.
Now it was time for Kendrick Lamar to go on, and with everyone back in the room that energy was back. I was not at this point familiar with him, but with what little I'd read I was very stoked. Apparently everyone else was- as soon as Lamar hit the stage, there was a mass vibration that wasn't all from the air being pushed by sorely tasked woofers. The energy stayed tight the whole time, and get this- it seemed like everyone knew all the songs, shouting and responding at all the right times under Lamar's intense command. I'm not sure I've ever seen someone work a room so solidly, and I have seen James Brown live.
Kendrick Lamar's almost flawless set (marred only by a perhaps carcinogenic level of gratuitous dub siren) was enhanced by a couple of really nice touches. First was Bethany, singer from Best Coast, doing a duet with Lamar, as seen here:
After that was a local guy named Kenny, who furiously ripped through one of Lamar's songs with scary accuracy, and stayed on as hype man through most of the show. Portland, represent. We were very impressed.
So that was the night. Sometimes you start out feeling a little cynical, ready to just jump on everybody's shit. For a show and a crowd to completely reverse that and leave all involved feeling great- a rare blessing. I have a feeling the rest of the Uncapped series is going to be much like this, so if you get a chance to see them, do it. Also check the Uncapped youtube page for videos of earlier shows.
And as far as the mission to combine business with pleasure- or journalism with date night- how did that go? Well, I think my wife was impressed.