It was a memorable night of music at Beat Kitchen on Thursday night. Akasha celebrated the release of their new record, How They Move. Meanwhile, the four bands that played before and after their set shook the roof with their jazzy mix of hip hop, R&B, blues and rock.
Whoever billed these bands together deserves a pat on the back. (And, why not, a raise). Most everything complemented one another almost too well.
Vertikal kicked things off with their sensual selections of jazz meets hip hop. Their tunes played like extended jams; the way jazz should always be played.
Besides two lead vocalists, the band was completed by an electric, bass, sax and drums. The sax, actually, added enormous volume to the band’s sound, and really made their influence from jazz that much more apparent.
One of my favorites from their five-song set would be what I suppose is called “Dreams.” It’s a song Stacey Rene said she wrote on a whim after walking into band practice late to other members of the band freestyling to some unknown tune. The lyrics — “It’s funny what a dream can do when it comes to you” — seemingly came to her from thin air, and soon enough they had a song.
Next was Doc’s Delorean, a band that fused rock, hip hop and funk together to blend original material with unique covers of popular songs.
I’m sure I didn’t catch ’em all, but the covers I picked up — sometimes they lasted just a chorus or two — included samples of “Black Betty” (Ram Jam), “Brain Stew” (Green Day), “Heart Shaped Box” (Nirvana) and “I’m a Man” (Chicago).
My favorite, though, was “Free Your Mind,” that classic ’90s tune by En Vogue.
Beat Kitchen’s audience seemed to really respond to it. And why not? For one, most of us probably hadn’t heard it in awhile — or never at all, considering Doc’s Delorean polled the audience to see how many people were ’90s babies. And two, the tune gave the band’s two female lead vocalists a chance to prove the seriousness of their pipes.
Akasha, the band releasing a new record, then took the stage.
Immediately, lead vocalist Cosmos Ray commanded the stage like he owned the place. He had such a stage presence about him, fooling with the crowd and putting on a show. Speaking for the band, he countless times thanked us all sincerely for coming out in support of them and the other acts at Beat Kitchen.
Their sound, unlike the bands that came before them, was reggae. And having reviewed their new album in the past week — the link to it appears below — I’m delighted to report back that Akasha is even better live. They’re louder and more enthusiastic. And then there’s Cosmos, who adds a lively touch to their tunes.
The first wave of audience really got into it, too. About midway through, people started relieving themselves of their drinks, purses and whatever else they carried with them by tossing them on or near the stage.
Then it was time to boogie down.
I stole a glance at their set list and noticed that they played 19 songs on Thursday. And unless I missed it, they played everything from the new five-track record, save for “Go Home.”
The evening ended with sets by Mos Scocious, a classy jazz-rock band whose members all wore black button downs, and Sidewalk Chalk, a funky eight-piece with silky smooth beats. They used everything — from keys, a trumpet, a bass, even a dude tapping around on tap shoes! — to form their sound.
Mos Scocious, in fact, was a delight to watch. You could tell right away how much fun they were having up there under the bright lights.
To garner a few laughs, their lead vocalist/guitar made a Gonorrhea joke when referring to why people shied away from standing too close to the band. And while delivering shout-outs to the night’s other acts, he said where Doc’s Delorean’s going, “No one needs roads” — a play on the famous quote from Back to the Future.
Though I’ve been to Beat Kitchen only a few times, Thursday’s show seemed to be as close to sold out as I’ve ever seen it. Fortunately for the people who made it out, they were exposed to largely great material.