Sunday 11 September 2016

First Thursday Sept 1st

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> > > Backed by a wall of floating images, performance artist Jessica Karuhanga is finally performing art that I am attendantly witnessing. And all I can do is blog. The sound track is brilliantly lo-fi and unstructured, at least by european musical standards. Looped snippets of pop tunes and hype-fangled beats bounce over and over again, an entire wall of Baillie Hall is being projected upon with many Instagram feeds and videos, mostly of young black women enjoying their beauty, dancing, hash-tagged and propped for their efforts.

> > > Karuhanga spends about five minutes on each dance pose, playing games with her shadow and gradually moving across to centre stage as she does, enrapturing and enthralling the audience of about 100 savvy, tasteful first Thursday patrons. Lemme see if I can get a picture without being a jerk. I am well versed in busking, extroverted outbursts, public music, and my girlfriend says I can dance, but this is something else; dance as sculpture, as installation, as statement alongside evidence from pop culture, as soundscape, as social moment highlighted and even celebrated. It's important for me to circle the entire space, much like a party monster, to observe the waves of discomfort and boredom as the demands of the experience eject layers of participants like the outer skins of a supernova. Or sometimes just to find a better seat, view, angles for snapshots. How silly is it that all I want to do is blog and insta-post about this experience. I suppose I find it rather intense, and try to sublimate in my own ways.
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> > It's been over a week and I still don't know what to say about the Mykki Blanco show I saw last Thursday. It's becoming increasingly difficult to be enthused about my own or any other's rapping abilities when said skills are spun for the sake of posturing, gun and money fetishes, and the propagation of patriarchal notions in the name of black or urban advancement. And yet... When the dynamic performance attended by several hundred in a crowded marble atrium features a queer front(wo)man whose aggression and self-assertion is being thrown in the face of homophobia and gender normative claptrap, I can suspend my sense of unreality and accept that maybe the format can still empower the voices of the underprivileged and underrepresented, I can let my body accept the bumps and waves of trap beats and crunk flows, I can hang right behind the dj and feel good about the hype and finery expended on a first Thursday event, find some space to groove and vibe in the plush crush, hear a few new fave songs, believe in the classic punk rhetoric of fuck y'all imma do my thing, witness Mykki owning the crowd, stomping in and out of their midst, striding into the middle of the dancefloor, traipsing up railings and onto the DJ table with such powerful poise and projection, still full of beans after the time was told, reluctant to hand over the gathering's focus, still standing tall after doffing shawl, wig, and smashing vox for a solid set.

Ok, I decided what I want to say: I finally saw a guilt-free rap show. If your hip hop fix has been compromised of late, tune into this. It feels better because it is better.
> > Thanks Bix.

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