Friday, August 13, 2004

Masala! Mehndi! Masti!: part two

  • concert review: The Rishi Rich Project w/ Lal @ Harbourfront, CIBC stage (Toronto, Ontario), August 5, 2004

    Rosina of Lal, with guest vocalist @ Harbourfront, CIBC stage (Toronto, Ontario), August 5, 2004: photo by Mike LigonI headed down to Harbourfront for the second day of Masala! Mehndi! Masti! , primarily to check out Toronto band Lal. I had picked up their first CD embarrassingly cheap months ago, and had only given it a passing listen once or twice, but it was something I remembered liking. My initial impressions of the music, only emphasized by Lal's performance that night, was that the vocals reminded me of Esthero's vocal style while the music made me think of the somewhat jazzy downtempo soundscapes of Lamb with just a touch of drum n'bass. Lyrically, Lal made reference to their South Asian heritage, on songs like "Brown-Eyed Warrior" and "B.E.W. Epilogue" off their magnificent second CD "Warm Belly High Power" . A member of Lal worked the programming/sampling duties and the band was rounded out with the live instrumentation of bass, drums/percussion, and guitar. Vocal duties were handled exquisitely by lead vocalist Rosina and a special guest backup vocalist, a petite friend of the band from Bangladesh wearing a very colourful [I'm assuming] traditional South Asian outfit, joined the band for a couple of songs. At one point in their set, a friend of the band took the stage and danced hip-hop style. Very cool. The stage was awash with warm rich colours of reds, yellows and beiges, both from the lighting as well as members of the band's clothing, that really was quite the eye-candy; if only more of my photos came out clearer. I was reeling after their set ended, and at the end of the night [after The Rishi Rich Project's set], with a little convincing at the sales kiosk which had just about closed up shop, I was able to purchase their CD "Warm Belly High Power". Fans of downtempo, chillout, trip-hop and drum n' bass should take note. Lal can more than hold their own with the Lamb's and Zero 7's of the world.

    On a sidenote, I bumped into a friend from university who, along with her sister, literally sat right beside me. At first glance, I knew she looked familiar, but I wasn't sure if it was was during Lal's set so I had to wait until the intermission before I made the awkward, subtle glance-over to see if it was her, and to be prepared if it wasn't[you never know these days, what a woman'll do when you're caught looking, if you know what I mean]. But fortunately, it was my friend from university, and after catching up, chatting about the festival[btw, they are South Asian], talking about music and such, she convinced me to stay to catch The Rishi Rich Project's set.

    I had not heard RRP previously, but I anticipated South Asian influenced dance music. I've heard bhangra before but I'm not remotely close to being a bhangra fan. I wasn't entirely off but bhangra was really only a starting point for RRP's music. Actually, RRP straddle the line between conventional pop and r'n'b music, and South Asian-influenced dance music. At times, on certain r'n'b numbers, they reminded me of North American r'n'b artists like Justin Timberlake and Usher and the production, that of The Neptunes. [You see, Rish Rich has recently worked with the likes of Britney Spears, remixing her tune "Me Against The Music".] Other times, the South Asian/bhangra elements were much more prominent. The band covered a range of genres from bhangra, pop, r'n'b, rock, and hip-hop, that made me think they could be the British South Asian version of N.E.R.D.. Rishi Rich, the man behind the production, provided a palette of creative sounds and beats as well as some skillful keyboard playing. The two vocalists/MC's, Ja Sean and Juggy D, alternated duties on the mic, alternating between hip hop bravado and sensitive r'n'b vocal stylings, which kept the songs interesting. And did I mention that these guys are chick magnets, as the audience of South Asian women near the front of the stage screamed like they were The Beatles...or is that The Backstreet Boys? You know what I mean. I'm not that keen on the more South Asian elements of their music, but they know how to keep their music interesting and I'll have to give them credit for that...[unfortunately, no photos worth posting because they all came out blurry.]

  • No comments:

    Post a Comment