Archive | Events

Ghostface Killah in Oakland

A few weeks ago I saw Ghostface in Oakland at The New Parish with Kensho. This was a different Ghostface from the one I had seen over 10 years ago at Sonar in Baltimore: this Ghostface was kinder, more softly spoken, and less braggadocios. In 2002 he was wearing three jackets, two hats, and about 15kg of gold jewelry. His temperament was that of someone who had just done a lot of cocaine: he seemed irate, irritable, and hyper-confident. In Oakland he was amicable and professional.

He brought another Wu-Tang member with him, Killah Priest, which was unexpected. The New Parish is a more intimate venue than Sonar, with around 200 people in attendance, so the show had a personable quality. It was a spectacular performance with little theatrics, just good, well performed music. It included all of the Ghostface songs that you would want to hear.

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah

Ghostface Killah

One thing that surprised me about the evening were the opening acts. Asking Kensho who was opening for Ghostface – an honor for any performer within hip hop – he said that most of the artists were “Pay to play” (which was later confirmed by someone else at the same show). What this means is that the opening acts didn’t get their slot solely because of their skill or local influence, but because they elected to purchase a lot of tickets to the show upfront, and then sell them themselves. Basically an affiliate marketing scheme. Doing this gives these “up-and-coming” artists rare and valuable clout while hedging the promoters investment in booking a high-profile performer.

What this means for the audience is that we are subjected to sub-par performers who did not earn their position. It was a night of hearing one DJ after another clumsily work their way through sets that it seemed like no one in attendance was interested in hearing. It struck me as a shameful way to lead up to a legendary artist like Ghostface of the Wu-Tang, and I cringed many times as rappers struggled with the rhythm of their own songs and DJs awkwardly scratched off-beat. For a city as proud of its heritage as Oakland is, it was an underwhelming lead up to a highly anticipated show.

In the end it all worked out because the main act did not disappoint. Ghostface Killed it.

Published on January 13, 2016

Photos from Halloween at Dojo

This halloween led up to the hype. Last halloween was great, but this one was better. My only regret is that I didn’t come up with a better costume: there two other people dressed as Chinese street cleaners also.

Dojo Halloween (7 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (17 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (37 of 58)

Dojo Halloween (46 of 58)

See more Halloween 2015 Photos
Published on November 6, 2015

May 2015 Snapshots in Chengdu

I am really enjoying the summertime over here. Here are a few snapshots from the last month. Highlights include:

  • DJ’ing at the wave pool within an amusement park last weekend
  • The Arena dance battle, hosted by my good friends who run Sinostage, which was amazing
  • The Arena dance battle block party which was in Chengdu’s Chunxi Road shopping district, that I played music at
  • UK music producer Troiboi, who performed at NASA in Chengdu
  • A painting by Yue Minjun, one of my favorite Chinese artists

Chengdu May-4

Chengdu May-10

Chengdu May-20

Happy Valley-1

Happy Valley-2

Chengdu May-23

Chengdu May-3

Published on June 3, 2015

Photos from Instinct, Chongqing

I went to Chongqing last weekend to perform at Instinct for the second time this year. It was really fun and it’s been great to see Chongqing’s underground nightlife scene develop over the last year. Here are a few photos:

Chongqing Instinct

Chongqing Instinct

Chongqing Instinct

Published on May 13, 2015

Making Waves in Chengdu

Make WavesLast weekend we hosted another Disco Death event, this one called Make Waves. As you can see, the visual theme of the event was Hokusai’s Great Wave painting, created in 1829 and part of a larger series of paintings called Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. I’ve been a huge fan of this painting in particular since I visited a Hokusai exhibition at the Freer Gallery of Art in D.C. a few years ago.

Musically, this event was about welcoming in the summer. It’s t-shirt season in Chengdu already. We played an eclectic range of reggae, surf rock, funk, and melodic hip hop.

This event was done in cooperation with Jovian and PLGRM, a pair of visual artists from Boston. They designed, built, and projection mapped onto a large wave shape made out of foamcore (a three-layered material of polystyrene covered with white claycoated paper). The visuals were amazing.

We have video from the event which is being edited into a summary of the evening as we’ve done with previous events.

Make Waves

Make Waves

Make Waves

Published on March 30, 2015

Photos & Stories from Hoodslam

One of the most memorable experiences I had on my recent trip to the Bay Area was Hoodslam, a monthly underground professional wrestling event in Oakland. It’s hosted at the Oakland Metro Opera House and features a dozen or so wrestlers performing theater on stage. It is incredibly self-aware and entertaining. Here’s the flyer from the event that I went to on March 6th, with video and photos further below:

Hoodslam

Highlights from Hoodslam

  • The local hero is a wrestler named Drugs Bunny, a Prohibition-era gangster wearing a bunny mask who does fistfuls of cocaine on stage. The crowd chants “Drugs, drugs, drugs” to show support for Drugs Bunny.
  • A wrestling match between The Predator and a wrestler playing Arnold Schwarzenegger. The Arnold character comes out first amidst ambient music, red lights, and helicopter sound effects, as he creeps into the ring with a giant gun. As he gazes into the crowd, the Predator emerges silently behind him and sits poised atop the edge of the ring as the crowd goes nuts.
  • A bowtie-wearing referee chain smoking joints in the ring
  • Link of Hyrule (Legend of Zelda) versus Obese Gamer, a 300-lb shirtless slob. Obese gamer is invulnerable to Link because he pulls out a golden Zelda cartridge with a Game Genie plugged into it. Link overcomes this obstacle by throwing the stoned referee at Obese Gamer, which stuns him.
  • Scorpion Junior wrestling against Mexican Batman. Scorpion Junior is a pregnant adult male wearing a Scorpion mask (Junior is a 1994 film wherein Arnold Schwarzenegger gets pregnant). During the fight, as fans chant “Miscarriage” Scorpion Junior gives birth on stage and throws a tiny Scorpion at Mexican Batman with a rope attached while yelling Get over here!.  Scorpion Junior becomes the first wrestler in Hoodslam history to be disqualified for breaking the only rule of Hoodslam: “Don’t bring your f’ing kids”. This is a slogan that appears on some of their apparel.
  • Ken from Street Fighter wrestling against Juice Lee, or Bruce Lee on steroids. Other events have featured Ken & Ryu from Street Fighter as a tag team duo.
  • The band featured at the event, called Arnold Corps, features a lead singer that looks and sounds like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The band is described on the flyer as “Pioneers of Austrian Action Adventure Rock ‘n Roll”.
  • Hoodslam is promoting an upcoming show called EnterTania

The entire production is ridiculous and a real joy. It’s filled with references to 1990’s American pop culture. If you are in the Bay Area or you visit there, I recommend you check this out. Here’s a link to their official website: BirdsWillFall.com

Hoodslam Video

Below is a video I found on Youtube describing Hoodslam and featuring its founder, a Persian American wrestler named Dark Sheik.

Photos

And finally some of my photos from the March event, which are part of the San Francisco 2015 set:

Hoodslam11

Hoodslam10

Hoodslam6

Hoodslam1

Hoodslam3

Hoodslam4

Hoodslam5

Hoodslam8

Visit the official Hoodslam website
Published on March 18, 2015

Performance Videos with PLGRM

A few years ago I befriended an American visual artist named Greg, from Boston. We did some shows together, but last year we begun stepping it up when he returned to China with his friend Seth. Together, they are PLGRM.

Below are a few brief videos from shows we’ve done recently, starting from late 2014 with the most recent video being from this event at NASA one month ago.

I’m a huge fan of their work and to do shows with them adds an entirely new dimension to live performances. They joined Jovian and I in Disco Death recently, which we’re very excited about. Our next event is Friday the 13th, next month.

Bassball @ Here We Go

Thuggin’ @ NASA

All In One Festival

Published on February 27, 2015

Visuals @ NASA in Chengdu

Disco Death @ NASA

Disco Death @ NASA

Last weekend we did a Disco Death show at NASA (a club) with an urban hip hop theme. We did the show with PLGRM, two amazing live artists from Boston who projected custom mapped visuals onto a large vertical beam behind the DJ booth. This show, along with last year at the same venue with Conrank, was the best show I’ve seen at this venue. Along with the recent Red Bull Music Academy event, of course.

Published on February 11, 2015