When I got to work on Monday night I realized my work load wasn’t that heavy so I decided to hurry up and get the Job done quickly so I could rush over to El Mocambo and catch my homies Steptone and Professor Fingers of iNSiDEaMiND who were opening for N.A.S.A. (North America South America). When I arrived at the El Mo, MAGNOLiUS were just finishing their set and, the place seemed quite empty. I wasn’t sure if it was for lack of promotion, the fact that it was a Monday night, or the fact that not a lot of people have had the chance to hear about this new project by Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon called N.A.S.A. I know I, myself, have heard very little about this massive 5 years in the making album by these two producers but what I have heard from it got me a excited.
N.A.S.A.’s debut album The Spirit of Apollo is one of those producer albums that bring together all kinds of different artists and styles together to rap and sing on themes chosen by the producers. Very much like Prince Paul and Automator’s Handsome Boy Modeling School albums this record brings together artists from different genres to add to Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegons funky Brazillian/Hip Hop influenced productions. The difference is some of these artists are massively mainstream and others are very niche oriented but all of them are highly respected for their craft. The album was released on Epitaph’s sub-label ANTI which boasts albums by artists like Spearhead’s Michael Franti, Neko Case, The Weakerthans, Lyrics Born, and Soul Legends Booker T. Jones and Betty LaVette. So you could say I was quite surprised to see artists like Kanye West, Sizzla, George Clinton, Santogold and M.I.A. appearing on a producer album released by such a small sub-label.
iNSiDEaMiND hit the stage and some guy said to me “There’s no one here. A friend of mine gave me these tickets and I thought she said she was giving me free tickets to see Nas.”
I said, “No their called N.A.S.A. North America South America.”
and dude was like “I never heard of them. Is it gonna be good?”
“I hope so.” I replied. “The album is pretty good. You know there were only like 20 people at that Sex Pistols Show in Manchester in 1976 and most of the people who were there went on to form a band and Factory records was born. Not to say that these guys are anything like the Sex Pistols but maybe in a way they are like the Sex Pistols for this generation. Who knows. I guess we’ll have to watch and see.”
Not to say that there were only 20 people in attendance, it was actually more like 75 to 100 by the time iNSiDEaMiND finished their set and the crowd seemed to really enjoy their beats and theatrical presentation.
Now it was time for N.A.S.A. to hit the stage and boy did they ever! They came out to a video intro, wearing space flight suits, and started a crazy high energy Video Jockey set on four turntables that mashed together modern Electronic Dance Music with Hip Hop Lyrics. The crowd was pretty chilled out from the iNSiDEaMiND set that preceded them so it took a while for Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon to get the crowds energy up for their particular style of Dee Jaying. Their show didn’t require that much audience attention like iNSiDEaMiND so it was a bit of an awkward transition between acts. Once they got the show under way and brought out Ras Congo to perform their single “Money” more people had arrived to join the party and the crowd started to dance up a storm.
So, who knows how many people N.A.S.A.’s debut performance in Toronto influenced, if any, but despite the awkward transition and low attendance they still seemed very able to rock the crowd and I’m looking forward to their second appearance here. Maybe next time the promoters will get wise and have some party rockin’ D.J.’s open for them instead of the cerebral Abstracts of MAGNOLiUS and iNSiDEaMiND. Who were also very dope BTW, just not the right fit for a N.A.S.A. show. iNSiDEaMiND and MAGNOLiUS performed during CMW last week and you can catch them again in Windsor on March 27th inside the Phog Lounge.[audio:NASA – Money feat David Byrne Chuck D Ras Conge Seu Jorge And Z-Trip.mp3,NASA – Whachadoin feat Spank Rock M.I.A. Santogold And Nick Zinner.mp3,Magnolius – Destrjoy!.mp3]