Urban haps of a grrrl on a mission to be a better writer, a new music master-blaster and a wonderfully brilliant razor-packing, MAC LipGlass wearing feminista...

Sunday, April 27, 2008

BLK JKS in BK @ Harriet's Alter Ego

(Laini Madhubuti, Nicole Mason, Nneka Bennett, Kissa Thompson)

I just got back from Brooklyn. Harriet's Alter Ego to be specific. The small boutique was overflowing with all sorta bohemes trying to catch a whiff of this South African funk that’s got everyone from The Fader to Time Out NY runny nosed and wanting more. My mom (bless her heart) hooked me up with a ride all the way from her place up in the Boogie down to Prospect Heights. I just had to see if the hype surrounding BLK JKS was really that deep.

I got there around 5:15PM and at first the scene was cool and tranquil. The bartender had just started mixing her firewater concoction and there were a few folks milling around out back. Word had it that over 500 heads had rsvp’d and if anyone knows Harriet's, y'all know that joint holds bout 200...snuggly. And sho nuff at 6pm, right on CP Time, heads just started rolling in like cattle to fresh green pastures.

By 6:30 myself and about 50 other people had already made our way to the front of the store to secure our spots by the sound equipment.

By 7pm the DJ was moving from ATCQ to Radiohead to Jimi Hendrix. The crowd, like the music, was growing restless and frenzied. When the heck were these cats going to finally show us what they got? Everyone was asking around: "So have you heard them perform before?" Have you ever seen them live?" "Have you heard their single Lakeside?" No, No, No. It was crazy. Everyone was crammed in booty to body. Funky armpits up against racks of cotton fresh new t-shirts and pretty summer halters. Everyone had swallowed the hype and now we were rubbing our aching bloated bellies praying for satisfaction. I heard Happy Land mentioned. I felt uneasy. Queasy even. Soon some folks were grabbing their belongings and walking out the door. It was too hot to just stand around and listen to old school records. That's why we have iPods!

– Knox Robinson, the group's manager and hype-man extraordinaire finally got on the mic to introduce the band. Oh no wait, first they are going to play newly recorded tracks fresh from Electric Ladyland’s studios. Okay, so couldn't we have listened to them 30 minutes ago? Needless to say there was no applause after the selections played.

7:40PM — The DJ, or was it Knox, got back on the mic only to announce that they needed 10 more minutes to sound check. WTF?!? Folks sighed, sucked their teeth and many simply surrendered to their hunger for real food, for air and for activity and left. The DJ put on Nirvana's "Feel Like Teen Spirit." Ha, well it did two hours ago!

Finally I think it was almost 8PM and BLK JKS started strumming their guitars and singing beautiful melodies, saying all kinds of wonderfulness. Redemption was now finding its place in the air. Folks quieted themselves and things were cool again. If I hadn’t been so hot and mangled up in between folks and microphones and their cameras and bags for so long, I could be more descriptive. But check my video below and catch the flavors for yourself. I will say this though, their music is simple and in their simplicity they have found the key. Their songs are about the music, the pureness of music and that kinda made it worth the sweat and pain.

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