Posted by: Addison – Jul 31, 2012
After thirteen hours of restaurant work with no ipod, I was ready to hear some good music. I'd been looking forward to this show for close to a month, and now regretted signing up for that double shift. I desperately needed the money though, and it definitely justified buying those beers I convinced myself I'd earned with my last couple of dollars. (Unfortunately, I wasn't able to afford a copy of Void Pedal's full length, Omni Colors.)
Although I showed up late, my first thought walking in was that the crowd was just getting warmed up, and maybe more people were arriving. Such was not the case. Jel and Abilities had just taken the stage, and our numbers barely qualified as a couple dozen. Disappointed I had missed Ohbliv and Swordplay, artists I have never managed to see despite sharing the neighborhood that is Richmond with them, and Void Pedal, whose name on the bill definitely made me want to go out despite being broke, I was still happy to see everyone who was there getting the fuck down.
Jel and Abilities rocked. Nothing gets me more stoked on musicians than when they take it upon themselves to have a good time and enjoy doing their damn thing despite not having a good turnout. I was probably more upset than they were, just at the fact that so few people made it out to see a unique pair of performers who may not grace the Smatter stage again. Regardless of the turnout, and the “off” vibe of the night, these dudes took the opportunity to have some drinks and jam out on some of the dopest button mashing I've ever witnessed.
Watching these two indie hip-hop legends recreate productions live was truly something that captured my interest. Hip-hop and electronic shows tend to be dull at best when you have an empty room and no hype. However, the live aspect of banging out groovy instrumentals before an audience adds a whole new perspective, and makes the experience more musical and organic.
Jel laid down the beat on his classic MPC2000 (that's the quintessential hip-hop sampler of the past two decades, for all you non-nerds) as if it were any other instrument, while Abilities exhibited all sorts of unorthodox turntable techniques, creating an exciting dynamic not entirely typical to a DJ performance. The live quality of their set, how they collaborated tightly just like any other band, along the genuine reaction of the crowd, really made my night.
By William Wilson
Photos By Matt Wild