Westword Music Showcase reviewed: Vinyl
See more photos from Vinyl at westword.com/slideshow.
Fresh Breath Committee, 12:00 p.m.
The day started off nice and sunny and Club Vinyl's rooftop, but I was a bit late in catching the set from the Fresh Breath Committee. The collective was rocking a decent-sized crowd and ended their set on their song "Soul Music," with Flawless displaying his versatility by blowing on the saxophone. The entire crew -- Flawless, Fo-Chief, Kontrast, Catch Lungs, Purpose, Hi-Res, DJ Skip Ripkin, and Crystal -- I was told, gave a solid and passionate performance throughout. But most people were talking about Crystal's voice, and how that added soul to a group that follows the more traditional underground hip-hop sound.
Verdict: Missed most of the set, but from what I can tell, the group gave a solid performance that the crowd seemed to enjoy.
FOE, 1:00 p.m.
Lately, F.O.E. and the Jewell Tyme Music family's live shows are being talked about as something you have to see. That was proven again on Saturday. He opened the show with "I'm the King," a head-nodding riot starter from his upcoming mixtape, The Format, with DJ A-What (of The Pirate Signal). It was just a foretaste of how his entire set would go. He invited Jewell Tyme boss and fellow nominee 800 the Jewell to join him on stage to rock another new track from the upcoming project, along with "Why I Do" and classic Colorado love track "The Box." FOE's energy and charisma onstage is unmatched, and between songs he kept it lively with jokes and quips that kept the crowd laughing. He seriously could do standup comedy if the rap thing doesn't work out. Jewell Tyme artist Karma then joined FOE onstage to do a couple of selections from his mixtape, Barack O'Karma, and jumped into the Bon Jovi-inspired cut "Dead or Alive." The duo ended the set with "Tic Toc," the high energy, rock n' roll-inspired track that had the crowd wanting to mosh -- but everybody's clothes were too nice to get dirty.
Verdict: Seeing FOE live is a blast, and any music fan should experience his showmanship, his vigor, and of course the head-banging music.
Whygee, 2:00 p.m.
When Whygee took the stage with DJ Brik-a-Bak, he broke into "It's Nothing" from an upcoming project, and immediately got the lingering crowd to stop and pay attention. Whygee invited his partner in rhyme, Sunken State, who tore into the tracks "Cavities" from Kid Hum's brilliant Offshore Drilling project. The duo then traded verses back and forth from selections from the Kid Hum-produced Suicide Watch EP, which included "Birds and Trees," "Flesh and Blood," and "Adam and Eve," which had the crowd listening intently to the words they were spitting. Whygee lightened up the set with a freestyle over Camp Lo's "Luchini," then Sunken State joined him and gave fans a treat by performing two brand new songs from the upcoming Suicide Watch 2. Can we have it now, please?
Verdict: Even though his live show isn't as adrenaline pumping as some of his peers in the scene, Whygee proved why he's one of the better emcees in Colorado.
For the last few years, veteran emcee Dent has been a staple at the Westword Music Showcase, and every time he brings something a little different. This time Dent performed choice cuts from his recent projects, Blunt Sessions 101, ConfiDENT and Greatest Songs U Never Heard including "Stacks 2 Blaze," and "Rock, Rock Ya'll," but he brought a few guests. The Break EFX dance crew were in the house, and broke open a circle during Dent's set. The crew performed 2-man routines and took turns going solo in the circle with a barrage of headspins, windmills, and acrobatic dives to keep the crowd moving to the sounds. Dent's strengths lie in rocking a party. He accomplished just that.
Verdict: Dent's set was a bit shorter than others, but kept the energy going and helped make the hip-hop vibe consistent.
The ReMINDers, 4:00 p.m.
Brian Landis Folkins The ReMINDers
When word got out that The ReMINDers were booked for the Westword Showcase, music fans cleared their schedule to make sure to catch them rock. They opened their set with "Recollect" and followed that with "Hands Up," a surefire party starter. But Big Samir and Aja Black really got the crowd into with the soothing "Overstand," where Aja got to showcase her exceptional singing voice. They ran through "The Way It Is" and "Rock This Funky Joint," and Aja stunned the crowd with an a capella version of "Ill 4 Life," which pretty much solidified her spot as the best female emcee in Colorado. The duo (couple, actually) then rocked their most well-known song, "Outside My Window," followed by the reggae-inspired "Black Roses." After The ReMINDers realized they had a bit more time, Aja broke into a lullaby she sings for her daughters at bedtime -- a tune that would have made any mother in the crowd tear up. The duo finally ended their set with "Fight Back," to rousing applause.
Verdict: The ReMINDers may be based in Colorado Springs, but they're pretty active in Denver. If you ever have a chance to check out them, you definitely won't be disappointed.
ManeLine, 5:00 p.m.
For Mane Rok, Inkline, and DJ Tense, performing is second nature. Their set is always on point, clean, and to the point. Saturday afternoon was no different. The trio opened with "...and Sew Its Seams" and "Big Plans," with some of it over The Clipse's "Mr. Me Too," which definitely got the crowd rocking. A big rain storm also helped out a bit, getting the people mingling on the rooftop to come in and check out the set. After a stirring performance of "Good & Bad," the crew invited A.V.I.U.S. of 3 the Hardway to the stage to rock "Heads Up," and later FOE returned to the stage to get the crowd even more animated with "The Struggle." The trio stuck mostly to their newest material performing "Why Angels Cry," "All Alone," and "Tick, Tock," off their latest album, ...& Sew Its Seams.
Verdict: ManeLine performs as if they've been doing it for decades. The music is as fresh as ever and their magnetism is infectious. After the show, you want to pop in their album to get another taste.
3 the Hardway, 6:00 p.m.
While 3 the Hardway was setting up for their set, DJ Cysko Rokwel got the crowd warmed up and ready with a fresh DJ set that really set the tone. A.V.I.U.S. and Es-Nine opened their set with "Set in Stone" and followed it with "The Truth." One of the greatest things about 3 the Hardway is Es-Nine's production. The beats these guys are working with can rock any party and get the crowd to let go of its inhibitions. The trio ran through "Unusual," "We Here," and "This Moment," where they invited singer Aurora Lopez to the stage to handle the hook. Cysko Rokwel then took a moment to show off a bit of his DJing prowess before the group went into "Remember" and the guaranteed crowd rocker "Came Up." Mane Rok, who had just finished his set with ManeLine, took the stage again and rocked "Wild Style West" with the trio. Cysko then took over once again and showcased his beat-juggling skills, which he will take on the road when he competes in this year's DMC Championships. Rokwel's turntablism skills are so clean you could hardly tell he was manipulating any records. The trio finally ended their set with "Reach for the Stars," while throwing free copies of their album into the crowd. It was a great was to end a celebration of Colorado hip-hop.
Verdict: 3 the Hardway's Set in Stone is one of the best Colorado hip-hop albums you'll ever hear and it translates well to the live stage. Plus, getting to see Cysko Rokwel rock those turntables live is something that shouldn't be missed.