I’m one of those pieces of shit that you never see at shows, one of the ones who “has to get up early” but really just wants to hang with boo. Don’t get me wrong, I only want the most for local musical artists, but I suck at going to their performances.
The Editor asked me to attend Brassious Monk’s release of Working… and I was definitely into it in theory. Local hip hop artists at a new music venue, an intimate setting in which to appreciate what still (unfortunately) proves for me to be mostly-unknown genre territory. But like,
Goddamn, the shit starts so late and has four openers that you’ve never heard of, and you’re tired and you live in Durham and shit. Without traffic, you’re looking at a 25 minute drive one-way, not including looking for parking. Then you have to risk your life (or freedom) driving whilst towing the forbidden .08 back to the Bull City, because lord knows if you’re going to get through this night, you’re gonna need a few drinks. You start to make up other things to get upset about just to give you more reasons not to go. Netflix and chill looks more and more tempting…
But fuck it. You said you would, so you will. This is what I, the aforementioned piece of shit, had to tell myself to attend what turned out to be one of the most inspiring performances I’ve seen in Raleigh thus far.
The Wicked Witch is a cash-only venue on the outskirts of South downtown Raleigh, kind of on the edge of the warehouse district. You walk up two flights of really sonically-intriguing stairs and end up in one of those spots that you never would have guessed was there if you looked at the building from the outside. I bet this joint is gonna have killer Halloween parties for the rest of time. I bought my first drink (a dark and stormy, for you gingery bitches who were interested), sat down, and spilled my petty bullshit to The Editor, who is somehow always down to go anywhere to see local live music. DJ Aston Martin was dope, I knew, but I needed a little more warm up time (and a few more drinks) to truly begin to vibe on what was happening.
BluHouse Band’s groove-rooted psychedelic hip hop was followed by a terrifyingly real performance by Durham’s own JooseLord that made me just about, how do you say, “break [my] fuckin’ neck.” Granted, I got really, really excited by BluHouse’s bass/drums rhythm section who held it DOWN in the face of guitar solos played from back-of-neck, but seriously. Joose is one of those artists that everyone loves to hate but everyone needs to listen to if they want a real peek into the minds of Black men who’ve been tortured by systemic racism for their entire lives but still, somehow, have a sense of humor about it. Later in the night, Joose told me that he loved the Durham punk band Pie Face Girls and that he’d played on bills with them in the past, which seemed to me to be one of the most profoundly fucking perfect lineups that I would ever get to see. Someday.
So, at this point, these openers became more than just openers to me. In the words of Brass himself, “I hate when people don’t come to see the supporting acts. Like, if you respect me enough to see the show, you should respect my choices in artists that I want to support me.” True. Each performance played a role in creating a sounding board for Working… to grow from; they were all imperative for both the audience and Brass to feel the full impact of the release. Joose called us all into the room, where eventually Brassious Monk, the perfectionist, meandered on the stage, sat down at a card table equipped with a desk lamp and a laptop, and inconspicuously made his project available online for purchase. He performed the first track, left a sign that simply said “Gone Fishing” on the card table, and disappeared.
Alright, cool. Another track starts playing, we’re all out here looking like content pitbulls, smiling about nothing, slightly confused, tongues hanging out (nah I’m just playing). A voice comes out of nowhere. A few cues from the audience lead me to look along the mirror-lined walls to find Brass, decked out in a fishing vest and cap with fairy lights running down his arms and torso, spitting rhymes while circling a plastic crystal ball on the floor.
This has got to be the point when I realized that I had completely gotten over myself. Like, I was SO glad that I was in this room, arm’s-length from the artist who had brought us all together that night, on the edge of the small group who had made it to the end. Yes, the aforementioned piece of shit made it to the END because of the sheer power of community and hip-hop! Brass’s set was perfect despite his own disclaimers, filled with intimate narrative about his life and beats to match. After what seemed like no time at all, it was all over, and I found myself wanting so, so much more.
So let this be a testament to us all. GO TO SHOWS. SUPPORT LOCAL ARTISTS. Even when you’re a piece of shit like me. The artists will definitely be grateful that you came, and hopefully you’ll feel better than you did before you left your bed.