Once again the beautiful spaces at the courtyard of the Annenberg Space for Photography were ready for another edition of the Sound in Focus concert series this past Saturday evening. Once again the weather was perfect; the diverse crowd, from child-totting families to sharp-dressed hipsters, were ready for a good time; the food trucks and beer and wine gardens well-stocked; the bands expertly sound-checked; and the exhibition spaces open for exploration. But once the music started it was clear: this was not going to be the same old thing!
KCRW’s own Garth Trinidad started the party atmosphere off with a DJ set featuring his own inimitable brand of music curation, nicely blending the latest earworms with classic jams. Being on-air weeknights from 8 to 10pm might give one the impression Garth is at his best when the sun has gone down, but there was no question that for this sunny late afternoon he was truly the Master of Ceremonies!
Will Holland, aka Quantic, is one of those well-travelled musicians who take inspiration from the various places in which he has visited and lived, including his UK homeland, Colombia and, most recently, Brooklyn, and all of the musical flavors of these places could be found in his set with his nine-piece orchestra. Quantic’s talented batch of musicians, including three stellar female vocalists, played & sang tracks from all over his seemingly-endless discography, including a couple from his latest release, A Western Transient, which in part celebrates the LA soul-jazz scene. All three vocalists got a chance to shine, as Colombian artist & longtime Quantic collaborator Nidia Gongora does with the Latin dub flavor on “Cumbia Sobre El Mar.” The musicianship was top-notch and the mellow, groovy vibe nicely suited the lovely setting.
[youtube width=”500″ height=”344″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jbGxX_RWz1A[/youtube]
And then: the main event! Hip hop legends De La Soul have been making records for over 25 years, a longevity that is remarkable no matter the genre. But there was no doubt that their appeal extends across many generations, as exemplified by the wide age range amongst the capacity crowd. And the band cannily recognized this fact by asking all attendees over 35 to raise their hands in the air (there were a lot of hands in the air!) But the trio was not content to rest on reputation – they got down to business, much to the audience’s delight. Songs like their 2000 single, “Oooh,” demonstrated their devotion to getting everybody on their feet, as one can see here:
[youtube width=”500″ height=”344″]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gp3C1zZ7J78[/youtube]
Even older De La Soul favorites like “A Roller Skating Jam Named ‘Saturdays’” and “Me Myself and I” turned into hard-hitting sing-alongs that got everyone engaged. Heck, I’ve never seen the sign-language interpreter work harder than keep up with the boys’ rapid-fire rhymes, but even he looked like he was having an awesome time! The band themselves got carried away more than once, with subtle jabs at Drake and Taylor Swift, as well as admitting that they’d probably have to put some bucks in the swear jar, but what can you do when the spirit is infectious! By the time the proverbial curtain fell on the show, I’m pretty sure most everyone got more De La Soul than they were even expecting!
The fun continues next Saturday night with another free concert at the Annenberg, this time with two legacy artists: local punk legends X and country rock favorite Dwight Yoakam! RSVPs are still open here, so tell your friends and join us for the honky-tonkin’ good times next week!