Bulked-up Beast dazzles at Motorco | Music
Music
INDY Week's music blog

Archives | RSS

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Bulked-up Beast dazzles at Motorco

Posted by on Thu, Jun 7, 2012 at 7:32 AM

The Beast + Big Band
Motorco Music Hall
June 6, 2012

The Beast is, without doubt, one of the strongest live acts in North Carolina. In this particular case, I’m not talking about instrumental chops or songwriting wit, although the Durham hip-hop-and-jazz four-piece has more than its fair share of both. Right now, I’m referring to heavy lifting, the ability to take on additional sonic weight and keep right on trucking. It was that strength that made the band’s opening set for Duke Performances’ annual Music in the Gardens series (relocated to Motorco due to threat of inclement weather) so thrilling.

Seizing the opportunity presented by the additional budget and exposure, The Beast expanded into a 12-piece mini-orchestra, filling out their energetic sound with strings, horns, guitar and additional percussion. Amazingly, the added heft didn’t slow the typically light and lively outfit. Bolstered by the orchestra’s swells, the band’s slyly sensual rhythms took hold more easily, allowing them to stretch out without forsaking momentum.

Much of this success had to do with the skill of The Beast’s reinforcements, an impressive bunch that included a N.C. Symphony member as well as regulars from the outsized salsa outfit Orquesta GarDel. One highlight was a freestyle piece that united the concept of off-the-dome rapping with improvisational soloing. Pierce Freelon’s verse was a touch clumsy but nevertheless charming as he traced personal connections between himself, The Beast and the big band surrounding them. The jaw-dropping solos overshadowed any weakness and proved Freelon’s points. Indeed, it was hard to think anything but happy thoughts as Al Strong’s piercing trumpet lines dazzled the senses.

Eric Hirsh leading the charge

But what truly won the night was The Beast’s fiery passion, which burned brighter thanks to the extra accompaniment. No moment proved this better than the ensemble’s upgrade of the solidarity-endorsing “My People.” Freelon began the song with a simple, soft-spoken message about North Carolina’s anti-gay marriage Amendment One: “Let’s repeal it.” Strings and horns filled in the spaces left within Eric Hirsh’s tinkling piano lines as Freelon worked himself into a fervor, jumping up and down, fist-pumping and screaming, “Fuck Amendment One!”

As performers, the four guys that make up The Beast are a conduit, transmitting incredible energy to their audience. On Wednesday, their role wasn’t really different. They simply utilized the added players as another power source, growing their intensity to match the ensemble's exaggerated sound. The results were organic and overwhelming, more the work of a practiced touring outfit than a one-off collaboration. Here’s hoping the night’s success inspires The Beast to bulk up more often.

Tags: , , , , ,

Pin It

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

INDY Week publishes all kinds of comments, but we don't publish everything.

  • Comments that are not contributing to the conversation will be removed.
  • Comments that include ad hominem attacks will also be removed.
  • Please do not copy and paste the full text of a press release.

Permitted HTML:
  • To create paragraphs in your comment, type <p> at the start of a paragraph and </p> at the end of each paragraph.
  • To create bold text, type <b>bolded text</b> (please note the closing tag, </b>).
  • To create italicized text, type <i>italicized text</i> (please note the closing tag, </i>).
  • Proper web addresses will automatically become links.

Latest in Music



Twitter Activity

Comments

Revive is my people. If folks were offended by this, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Revive Music was …

by Matthew Allen on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

Most Recent Comments

Revive is my people. If folks were offended by this, I can assure you it wasn't intentional. Revive Music was …

by Matthew Allen on Art of Cool Festival, Night One: Revive Big Band's Music-History Concert Leaves Out Women to an Absurd Degree (Music)

Small crowds like the one in Utrecht The Netherlands where I was with my 7 year young daughter may be …

by George Hendriks on The blues of Randall Bramblett's career-long cult status—and the promise of his new Devil Music (Music)

Wow! I am speechless. Skylar that was amazing! You are very talented. I love your vocal range and passion. Thank …

by Rita Romaine Rakestraw on Video Premiere: Phil Cook and Skylar Gudasz Nod to Alice Gerrard in New Tribute Clips (Music)

Also the "correction" (UPDATE) above is incorrect. The original anticipated release date of the new Bowerbirds album was September 2014. …

by Beth Tacular on Tuskha, the new project of Bowerbirds' Phil Moore, releases new video for "The Program" (Music)

© 2017 Indy Week • 320 E. Chapel Hill St., Suite 200, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
RSS Feeds | Powered by Foundation