Thursday, April 24, 2008

Saul Williams: Oh, That's Why I Love Music

I’ve always thought that if this writing gig didn’t work out, I could at least fall back on my drumming skills.

Last night, those aspirations were dashed across the floor of Kilby Court, along with the rest of my being. Poor Lance is probably still there cleaning up the pieces of me that were blown away by Saul Williams’ performance.

My musicianship-doubts began to form even before Williams took the stage. The three-piece backing band/programmers took the stage in full war-paint, head-feathered glory, led by New York producer/sequencer extraordinaire CX Kidtronik. From the moment the mohawk’d Kidtronik threw down, I knew I wanted to go home and trade in my drum set for an arsenal of drum machines, sequencers and synthesizers.

Following tribal-suit, Williams took the stage decked in full warlord attire. Proving himself equal parts eloquent and abrasive, he launched into an industrial/dance heavy set, littered with moments of thoughtful slam poetry. Even kids decked out in bondage gear couldn’t help dancing to the thick assault of NIN-influenced material off his newest album (apparently, they didn’t get the message that Trent wasn’t going to make an appearance, despite producing the album).

“I like small places like this,” said Williams of the tightly-packed Kilby. “It’s less of a show and more of a ritual.”

Every now and then, you go to a show that reminds you why you love music – listening to it, writing about it, playing it ­– and it all comes down to honesty. Sure, there was enough energy in the tiny space to power a city skyline, but Williams’ love for his audience was so thick it was tangible. From his heartfelt cries against racial injustice to letting the crowd embrace him, there was a real connection – something rare during most live performances. But at the same time, there was no air of pretentious self-righteousness (thanks partly to Kidtronik’s amazing dancing/shenanigans). And it rocked.

After the closer – the well-deserved hit “List of Demands”… try to listen to it without getting it stuck in your head – the encore consisted of an original from Kidtronik (which Williams introduced as “this song is… uh… absurd”). The DJ/producer threw on a skull mask and went wild on the crowd with an assaulting techno/hardcore song and even crowd surfed… at Kilby! Did I mention his album is titled Krack Attack?

The last song, a re-imagining of U2’s “Sunday Bloody Sunday,” made the crowd a little more comfortable after Kidtronik’s spectacle, but I always thought covers were a big no-no at Kilby.

(Ryan Bradford. Photos courtesy of Dave Madden/Nonnon)

1 comment:

  1. I actually said "oh good, you can't play covers here...", and hoped maybe it wouldn't happen.

    Other than that, boom boom BREAK.


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