Saturday, November 28, 2009

Akim Funk Buddha @BAMcafé, Nov. 27th

Last night, after a fantastico meal at the mucho delicioso Umi Nom, Bestest Boy and I continued our all-Brooklyn evening by heading to the upstairs of the Brooklyn Academy of Music aka BAMcafé to check out Akim Funk Buddha perform his show, Hip Hop Holiday I: Back to the Essence, a creative presentation of his personal journey with the musical genre. I had attended numerous performances in the Howard Gilman Opera House portion of BAM before, including a concert by Patti Smith that inspired my very first Gigoblog entry, but this was our first time checking out the café as a venue itself. We didn't know what to expect, and the crowd was pretty random with a good number of children in attendance, and the majority of people were seated at tables, but it was free, so why not.

Akim was a charismatic leader, using his numerous talents of breakdancing, rhyming, Tuvan throat singing and general showmanship in putting together a thoughtful narrative of his musical experience, from his first exposure starting with the '80s in South Africa, to his days in New York, and ending with a voyage to Bali where he learned to appreciate the syncopated beat. The show ran a little unevenly in terms of energy, perhaps due to having to be tailored to an all-ages audience as well as constraints of space and lack of staging, but, for the most part, Akim kept the audience's attention with his interesting and varied range of musical stylings.

What perhaps was most impressive about the evening was the support he assembled -- a multi-instrumentalist on kalimba and percussive gourd, a DJ on turntables who spun some great old school samples and rhythmic scratchings, a violinist whose instrument at times lent a spaceship ride quality to the songs, and our favorite, a human beatbox genius (Adam Matta) who blew us away during a solo using nothing other than a looping pedal and his own mouth.

Despite having no expectations, Bestest Boy and I had a nice mellow Friday evening at BAMcafé, proving that one need not stray far to find good quality entertainment.

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