The Clarion Content was delighted to able to attend the 2nd Annual Concert to Benefit Wounded Warriorso organized by Jay Lawrence aka The Real Laww and his partner in rhyme Professor Toon, this past Saturday night at MotorCo Music Hall. Rain dampened attendance a bit, last year was a sellout, but the room was still banging and the bar packed when the night kicked off.
It was sponsored by local clothing favorite and friend of the Clarion Content, Runaway Clothes and founder Gabe Eng-Goetz, along with the Durham hipster beer of choice, PBR. The show kicked off with Jessica Long and the New Kind.
Our editor has to be honest with you, we were stoked for Jessica Long and the New Kind. We had heard about them from a variety of our local knowledge experts and word on the street was, “They tight. You gonna like’em.” So maybe our expectations were a bit high, maybe it was the crummy weather, but when the chorus of the first song was “One, Two, Three, Four” and the second song revolved around the lyrics, “Blah, Blah, Blah…” (Literally.) Our reaction was WTF, really? What’s all the hype?
The third song was a Smashing Pumpkins cover and while technically sound, we were still wondering. Yes, the band was good. Yes, Ms. Long was a captivating presence who could laugh at herself, and those lyrics 1,2,3,4. But what was the hook?
The next two songs told the tale. And we will come see Jessica Long and the New Kind again. “Sylvia” and “Don’t Cut Me Loose” showcased Long’s pipes and range. Like they told us, “She can sing and she gonna move ya.” Not sure if our sources were talking body or soul, but Long got us on both counts.
A brief set break and up next was the Chit Nasty Band and Mr. Nasty himself. Chit channels everything from Prince to Ray Charles to Jerry Lee Lewis. With those big sunglasses, he starts out a sharp dressed man. Saturday night was no different, Chit looked like he could have stepped right out of the pages of Esquire or GQ when he began the set. By the end, his inner James Brown had him sweating, tie cast aside, shirt unbuttoned, as he proclaimed his nastiness on stage. Telling the crowd, he knew Durham, Ms. Long, LiLa, Toon and the Laww and that we all needed to Love ourselves as much as we Loved the Person next to us.
And then, “Dance.”
And dance they did. Chit blew it up. Hips were shaking.
When the high regarded, but yet still underrated, DJ Shahzad took over walls were quaking. It is a testament to the power of the DJ to both make his/her music referential, you know where they’re coming from; and fresh, not overplayed, stale, this again. It is a delicate balancing act and DJ Shahzad who often appears with Clarion Content fave, LiLa, was up to the task.
The highlight of the night was, of course, the closing act. Toon and the Real Laww played with a full band, Kyle Cox, Griffin Wade, and Rosean Franks of LiLa, along with Chit Nasty on the keys. Toon and Laww are so polished, smooth, well-timed and professional it is no wonder that rumors abound they will be leading the break out nationally for the Durham hip-hop scene. Possibly touring with some rappers who’s twitter followers run to the seven figures.
All we can tell you, ladies and gentlemen, is see these fellows while you can. $15 bucks felt like a bargain, especially with a goodly chunk going to benefit those who have defended our freedom to be in MotorCo enjoying this kind of music.