Live Review: Ty Dolla $ign at Shed 6, Wellington

Ty Dolla $ign Campaign Tour NZ poster
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Ty Dolla $ign Shed 6 Wellington Campaign Tour

Ty Dolla $ign

w/ DJ Sir-Vere, TeeCee 4800 and DJ Dre Sinatra

Shed 6, Wellington

Tuesday 31 January 2017

Ty Dolla $ign began the NZ leg of his Campaign tour in Wellington off the back of his mixtape of the same name,

This show excited me for two reasons. Firstly (and more obviously) I am a fan of his and what better way to experience his music then performed live. Secondly, I was excited to contribute to Will Not Fade by writing about Hip Hop/RnB – a genre that may not get as much coverage on this site.

First coming into the spotlight on the track “Toot It and Boot It” by YG back in 2010, Ty Dolla $ign has since release 2 EP’s, 9 mixtapes and 2 albums, and founded a music production team (D.R.U.G.S). He has also contributed his song writing skills to hits like “FourFiveSeconds” (Kanye West/Rihanna/Paul McCartney), “Loyal” (Chris Brown/Lil Wayne/French Montana/Too Short/Tyga) and “Post to Be” (Omarion/Chris Brown/Jhene Aiko).

A standout in the ever-growing category of singer-rapper (think Drake, Future etc.),Ty Dolla $ign’s sound has elements of Hip-Hop, RnB and Soul. Among his influences are 2Pac, Prince and Stevie Wonder. Music production plays a big part in his artistry, being a multi-instrumentalist.

Ty Dolla $ign Shed 6 Wellington Campaign Tour

We arrived at Shed 6 to see it roughly half full. Shed 6 is an underutilized venue that I would like to see more acts play. It reminds me of the now-defunct James Cabaret, although is twice as large. A DJ was walking around on stage trying to amp up the crowd.

Teecee 4800 Ty Dolla Sign Shed 6 Wellington Campaign Tour

Ty Dolla $ign’s cousin Teecee 4800 succeeded in elevating the mood. The audience notably perked up in response to the live performance after having listened to prerecorded tracks through the PA for the past few hours.

Ty Dolla Sign Shed 6 Wellington Campaign Tour

And as much as they loved Teecee, it was nothing compared to the star attraction. Ty Dolla $ign arrived onstage larger than life. He wore a Hawaiian styled jacket atop a black Gucci t-shirt – both of which were removed before long. His dreadlocked hair was tied back under a cap, and he wore round sunglasses to protect his eyes from the harsh red stage lights.

He was clearly excited to be in New Zealand. He commented on how much he had enjoyed Wellington since landing at the airport and complimented us on our potent strains of marijuana before lighting up a large blunt and taking a big drag before throwing it into the crowd. A risky move considering that it was an all-ages show, but I get the impression that this didn’t concern him too much.

It was a real buzz to run around in the photographers pit taking photos from all angles. It’s a shame that red lights – the bane of the photographer – dominated the entire show. Steam cannons lined the front edge of the stage to shoot geysers of steam into the air at certain moments.

Crowd Shot Ty Dolla Sign Shed 6 Wellington Campaign Tour

Ty Dolla $ign treated us by playing all manner of tracks from his varied career, showcasing his strength as a collaborator. It’s a shame that autotune is so prevalent in many of his songs because he has great singing talent. It was terribly fun and it was clear that everyone in the building was having a blast.

It was interesting trying to figure out who the true Ty was. A large, heavily tattooed rapper drinking gin out of the bottle. A talented musician with illustrious credits to his name. He proudly brought his daughter and sister onstage, but then later let his DJ stop the set to pull girls up onstage to dance. Is it possible to be both a family man and womanizer? He brought TeeCee 4800 back out to tag team on some tracks with him.

Ty Dolla $ign Shed 6 Wellington Campaign Tour Crowd Surf

The once-fun set got derailed and lost all momentum as DJ Dre Sinatra spent five minutes beckoning girls up onstage to dance for the final track before taking them backstage for the “after party”. As lame as it was halting the show to seek out groupies, Ty Dolla $ign did end on a fun note, with Fifth Harmony’s “Work“, and ventured into the audience to do a spot of crowd surfing.

Overall it was a fantastically fun gig – certainly worth staying up late on a Tuesday night for.

Ty Dolla $ign Shed 6 Wellington Campaign Tour

Words by Jayden Sulufaiga and Joseph James

Photos by Joseph James

Live Review: Jurassic 5 at Shed 6, Wellington

Jurassic 5
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Jurassic 5

w/ Name UL
Shed 6, Wellington
Wednesday 8 April 2015

 

Watching Wellington rapper Name UL tear up the stage was much the same as last time I saw him. He gave a valiant effort attempting to pump up the crowd, but there wasn’t much of a crowd present to be pumped up. I’ll give him credit, Name UL has skills and potential, it just seems that the reception has been a bit lacklustre both times I’ve seen him perform. I’d love to see him in a packed club, where he could really set a crowd off with his energy.

The venue was largely empty, set up with the stage at the North end. This left me feeling a bit disoriented for a bit, seeing as the stage had been at the South end for the Gary Clark Jr show just over a week ago. At first it seemed like it would be a quiet mid-week gig, but the place slowly filled up with time.

I’ve seen a range of different hip hop acts in the past, but never a full crew like Jurassic 5. The four emcees, Chali 2na, Akil, Soup, Mark 7even; along with DJ’s Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, put on one of the most lively and entertaining shows I’ve seen in a long time.

Having multiple emcees and DJ’s really filled out the sound. It was more than rapping – it was musical. There was singing and there were harmonies. Any one of them alone would have been impressive, but the way that they tag teamed and bounced off each other added to the vocal dynamics. The mix was great and all the lyrics could be clearly heard. The delivery was flawless, clearly the product of many, many hours of rehearsing. The emcees obviously enjoyed themselves as they danced about onstage and took turns delivering lines.

One of the highlights of the night was the DJ battle. Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark came to front of stage with all sorts of ridiculous instruments. Nu-Mark set down a beat using a portable trigger pad. Cut Chemist responded by scratching on a portable turntable strung around the back of his neck. Nu-Mark stepped it up by playing a contraption he’d made from multiple old records. They then teamed up to play an oversized record player that dominated the centre of the stage. One would spin the large “LP” that played a Run The Jewels track, while the other would flick the switches on the mixers. If you’re trying to imagine it: the record was about the size of a large round coffee-table.

J5 really worked the crowd. The set was split into acts. Chali 2na, would introduce new segments, saying “And for this part of the show…”  in his deep baritone voice, before explaining what he wanted the audience to do. They had the crowd opening and closing their hands, fist pumping, riding invisible motorcycles and witnessing old Western shootouts. These moments seemed silly and gratuitous, but were fun nevertheless and added interactive components to the set.

To show that they really were there to please, they asked the crowd for requests of obscure songs from the band’s back catalogue. “Now you already know we’re going to play ‘What’s Golden’. But what else do you want to hear? Think of something that you don’t expect us to play!” The set covered hits from every album, and the request session surely left even the most die-hard fans satisfied.

Not only was it a stellar hiphop show, but there was so much more. You come to expect rapping and dancing from a hip hop show, but you know that you’ve witnessed something special when the set involves DJ battles and a kazoo solo. Jurassic 5 are true entertainers in every sense. They were all very talented, but more importantly, they were fun.

 

Joseph James

 

 

 

Live Review: Gary Clark Jr. at Shed 6, Wellington

Gary Clark Jr NZ poster
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Gary Clark Jr.

w/ Aaron Tokona
Shed 6, Wellington
Sunday 29 March 2015

A few years ago my friend Sam and I flew up to Auckland for a few concerts at Vector Arena. The first show was Weezer playing their first album (known as the “Blue Album”) in its entirety. A few nights later Red Hot Chili Peppers played at the same venue . It was a great trip and both shows were awesome. The standout band though, was Gary Clark Jr, one of the acts who opened for the Chilis.

I’d never listened to him beforehand, but Clark and his band caught my attention straight away. He was something else. So smooth. So slick. He had a swagger about him that just reeked of cool. They only played four songs, but that was more than enough to make a lasting impression.

When I got home I immediately looked him up and started accumulating his music. My girlfriend bought the Black and Blu LP for me. I ordered a Gary Clark Jr/ Son House split from Daytrotter. There was a mixtape hosted at datpiff that featured a more hip-hop flavour. He also featured on a catchy little Cody ChesnuTT b-side.

[ChesnuTT was my other musical discovery that year. I saw him play in Wellington on his birthday and he was outstanding.]

Since then I’ve noticed Clark pop up here and there, slowly gaining popularity. There was a cameo on the film Chef, and a Foo Fighters collaboration on the album/television series Sonic Highways.

And now finally he has returned to New Zealand to headline his own shows, as an extension of the Byron Bay Bluesfest.

This was my first time in Shed 6 since it has been refurbished as an alternative to the Wellington Town Hall. It was a similar size to Town Hall, and didn’t seem to suffer from the terrible acoustics that neighbouring venue TSB Arena is so notorious for.


No support act had been announced, so I was pleased to recognise Aaron Tokona (Cairo Knife Fight, Ahoribuzz) when he graced the stage. He opened his set with “Calling On”, the biggest single from his 90’s rock band Weta. For the ensuing half an hour, Tokona noodled around on his guitar and messed with his effect pedals, displaying his mastery over his instrument. It’s hard to say who enjoyed the set more out of Tokona and the audience, because he was clearly having a ball onstage. He strummed and plucked and tapped as he gyrated around.  He even sheepishly took a selfie in front of the crowd. “I’ve never done this before” he confessed, “but all my mates do it.”

Aaron's selfie, taken from his Facebook page

Aaron’s selfie, taken from his Facebook page

“Now I can show my 13-year-old daughter that I’m cool!” he grinned after taking the snap.There was no telling how much of his set was rehearsed or spontaneous, but Tokona managed to impress and entertain us with his abilities.

[Keith Stanfield from Moors is one of the actors in this clip. He also features in the latest Run The Jewels video. Keep an eye on him, because I’m picking Stanfield to become the next big thing.]

Gary Clark Jr and his band were sublime. The highlight of the set for me was “When My Train Pulls In”. I got so excited from the first note. There was a familiar light strum to check the tuning, and he started building feedback and the drummer washed up his cymbals, before a pause, and then that riff. That riff that is so laid back, so groovy. It sounded so effortless. It was nirvana. It was only about four songs into the set, but after that song I could have happily left satisfied.

Not that I needed to leave. The following song, “Don’t Owe You A Thing”, really bumped the energy up, before Clark lowered the mood with “Please Come Home”. And both songs were great. Every song was great, truth be told. Ballad or anthem, cover or original, the musicians on stage all played exceptionally well and left the audience awestruck.

There was a sound that permeated the set – a dirty, raw blues vibe. Although it’s a great record, Black and Blu sounded overly polished. It was too sedate and clean to capture the true essence of the songs. But in a live setting the songs come to life. Most songs were long and drawn out with endless solos.

Clark opened the set with a slide on his finger, and finished with devastating solo and feedback. And in every song between he proved why he has a guitar legend status. It’s not hard to see why all the Hendrix comparisons get made. Clark even covered a Hendrix song, “Third Stone From The Sun”. He scratched up and down the string, making DJ noises, and messed with the tempo by having the band gradually speed up before reverting back to the original speed.

The encore was an unreleased love song (from the forthcoming album) that Clark played solo. It seemed basic compared to many of the other songs, but it seemed to cast a spell over the crowd. He followed with “Black and Blu”, before his band mates joined him for a stunning rendition of the closing song “Bright Lights”

This was the gig that I had most been looking forward to all year. And it more than surpassed my expectations. Not only was the opening act Aaron Tokona thoroughly entertaining, but Clark and his band put on a such a stellar two-hour set of soulful bluesy rock that I can’t help but rave about how good it was. It was slick, yet laid back. Impressive, but seemingly effortless. Clark and his boys have the skills to wow. If you get the chance to see them play, do. They won’t disappoint.

Joseph James