Blogger Megan Couture picks her favourite shows from the 2012 Halifax Jazz Festival lineup. Jazzfest is an institution in Halifax. …
Review: Maestro Fresh Wes & Deltron 3030By Trevor J. Adams | Jul 17, 2012
Tags: deltron 3030, hip hop, JazzFest, maestro fresh wes, Megan Couture, music, reviews
Guest blogger Megan Couture reviews Maestro Fresh Wes and Deltron 3030 at the Halifax Jazz Festival.
All week I’ve been walking around saying, “Yo, it’s three-thousand-thirty,” and it’s all Jazz Fest’s fault.
Thursday night the Halifax Jazz Fest brought the hip-hop heat at the main tent.
I arrived a little late and caught the tail end of WijeratneWorks featuring Skratch Bastid. The duo, from what I saw, was excellent and well received. It’s tough to perform early at a hip-hop show, as not many people were dancing and most were sitting down. No fault of the performers, but just a symptom of a night really not yet started.
After a short break (props to the organizers for keeping breaks only long enough to grab a beer and a quick bathroom run) Maestro Fresh Wes took the stage. An effective hype man, Maestro got the crowd warmed up for what was to come. Canadian hip-hop is tricky; I know it’s unfair, but often I find it borders on self-parody. The rags-to-riches, from the streets/but now turbo-rich mentality that comes out of the U.S. sometimes feels hokey when portrayed by Canadian artists. I felt Maestro was close to this line. Songs that reflected his life in the mid-1990s fall slightly flat now. But clearly the crowd disagreed as they were all over it. And to be fair, Maestro performed a piece a cappella about fatherhood that, although corny, was coming from a real place. He closed with “Let Your Backbone Slide,” likely his best-known song. That was a fun piece of nostalgia that everyone seemed to enjoy.
I took this opportunity to find my way up to the front, knowing it was likely I could only stand it for a short period of time. Starting with a bang, Deltron 3030 burst to life with my favourite song “3030,” a dreamy, floating track with a hook in the chorus so irresistible it’s been stuck in my head all day. It was exhilarating at first, a whole group of people, shouting, cheering, singing and showing that even though they haven’t released a new album in 12 years, we still loved them. They kept all chatter brief; not to be rude, but to fill every single second they were on stage with a musical experience. Their sound is intense but atmospheric, conceptual but not complicated. Where it should make you sleepy, it seemed to feed the energy of the crowd more. Personally, I was surprised at the amount of intensity and had been expecting a more complacent crowd.
Ah yes, the crowd. Now, I won’t dwell on it because this is a music review and the crowd is not the music but it does add up to an overall experience. I know that when you go to the centre of the crowd, there is a certain type of fan there, and they are likely behaving in a certain way. But under no circumstances is it okay for anyone to shove me, blow smoke in my face and grope me as they pass by (by the way, winking after you grab me doesn’t make it cute).
But I can’t control other people. And I also didn’t let it ruin my night. Playing the perfect balance of established favourite and new stuff from their upcoming fall release, I felt equally content by both offerings. Deltron played just enough new music to get me interested, but not too much that I was feeling lost. Other fantastic performances of “Virus” and “Positive Contact” kept me screaming until I was hoarse.
The encore was a real curveball and one of the greatest surprises of the night. Del the Funky Homosapien is the resident game-spitter and, for a short stint, performed with the Gorillaz. As a treat, they broke out “Clint Eastwood,” likely the Gorillaz’s best-known single. God, do I ever love surprises like this!