I’M A BROOKLYN BABY: Just when the trends of New York’s hippest borough seem so thoroughly rehashed and beaten that they could fill a whole cemetery with dead horses, along comes an exciting new act to remind you why acts from Brooklyn continue to draw so much buzz.
Ava Luna brought its weirdo New York R&B-funk-wop to the FUNZONE on Sunday, May 17, evoking forefathers like The Velvet Underground and Talking Heads in their bassy punctuations and lovely harmonies, but a bit more Poetry Club. Not a head stopped bobbing during their entire set. Highlights included Felicia Douglass’s heavenly vocals on “Coat of Shellac” and Becca Kauffman’s theatric stares on the spoken-word number “Roses and Cherries.” I went from unfamiliar to instant fan.
Joining the bill was Chicago-bred Young Jesus, powerful indie rockers, perhaps a bit too earnest but still strong; FUNZONE mainstays the Sun Daes, their relaxed vibes even more so sans drummer; and bright young area duo Honey Maid, which nearly stole the show with its opening post-pop-punk set that featured rocking sad-happy songs like “Sadness Mattress” and “Microwave.” Though the touring acts may have had a tad more polish to them, none were as fun.
Speaking of fun, a shout-out to the FUNZONE for providing an all-ages venue with such a warm and DIY spirit. For those who haven’t been, go — not just for the music but also for the meditative batting cages.
HIP-HOP HOORAY: Ventura rapper-singer KYLE’s ever-rising tide of success continues to swell into a bigger and bigger wave, with the Ventura High grad’s King Wavy Tour cresting at a headlining spot last week at the Majestic Theater on Thursday, May 14. For those who are just now catching the wave yourselves, check out KYLE’s poignant new video, “Wait On Me,” dedicated to his late grandfather. He also just released “It’s Lit!” featuring another up-and-comer, Iamsu!, and it’s catching fire all across the Internet. (Iamsu!, by the way, also recently collaborated with Casey Veggies, who was here in April.) A huge congrats to our 805 hero for making it this far, and hoping him a swell remainder of the tour.
In other hip-hop news, Velvet Jones delivered a one-two punch this past weekend with a Friday-night appearance from Sacramento’s C-BO and a Saturday-night visit from L.A.’s Abstract Rude, two legends of the genre at different ends of the spectrum. Like the rain that welcomed the weekend, so much veteran hip-hop talent packed into two days is a rare thing in town.
C-BO, a gangsta rapper so real he scared the authorities into jailing him for his lyrics alone, is famed for classics like Tales from the Crypt and his work with Tupac Shakur. The thoughtful and prolific artist recently spoke to The Indy (see independent.com/cbo) and seems to be moving with life’s changes very well — he has a new album slated for this year. Abstract Rude followed up the next night and put the venue in a much different headspace with his chilled-out West Coast sound. Beaming in from the Golden Era of hip-hop, he’s a man of sage wisdoms and simple truths.
Did somebody say Sage? Velvet Jones continues its roll this Thursday, May 21, with Sage Francis. For those of you who may not remember when hip-hop got very literary around the early 2000s, Sage Francis was one of the most respected and acclaimed to rise among his fellow wordsmiths, with some saying he is among his generation’s best lyricists. He released Copper Gone in 2014 after a four-year hiatus, so now would be a great time to see him, fresh and back in action. Doors open at 8 p.m.