K-OS + Peter Elkas @ Club Soda

By Darcy Macdonald - Ear Exam - 10/29/04

K-os + Peter Elkas

October 29th 2004 Club Soda

I gotta say I'm a bit jealous of people who have seen K-os perform with The Roots, or Blackalicious, or De La Soul, or any of the other crews on the impressive list of hip-hop talents K has shared a stage with. I've seen him perform as an opening act twice before, and though both times were tight, his job was to warm up the crowds. Perched on a stool, accompanied only by Russel Klyne's acoustic guitar work and Santosh Naidu's insane tabla control, he got 100 Spearhead fans dancing barefoot and 2000 Ben Harper peeps kickin it in their Birkenstocks.

What can I say? The man writes the songs the people feel. On his new record, Joyful Rebellion, almost every track stands as a perfect example of the genre that inspired it - not in a cheesy, ripped-off or creatively jacked-off style, but as a tasteful hommage to the architects of modern music. And every time, he manages to keep it hip-hop.

So it was cool to finally see K-os headlining his own sold-out show. The Spearheaders and Ben Harperses shared ranks with the hip-hoppers, if only for an evening, and everybody did the Charleston...something like that...love was in the room, anyhow.

After a set I pretty much missed by ex-Local Rabbit Peter Elkas (the crowd concensus seemed to be that he was good-looking), this weird alien voice came on the PA and people started to get excited. Since we were at the back of the club looking tough and generally thuggin', my homies and I didn't really pay no mind, and all of the sudden we're hearing the opening verse of "B-Boy Stance". Lo and behold, K-os was before us, sans stool, jumping around the stage in a hoodie, as a 5-piece band dropped the beat. Shedding our coolness, we rushed the floor and started doing our little two-steps.

K and The Gang went straight into "Freeze" immediately after and the breakers came outta the woodwork, forming a circle in front of the sound booth. Turned out they were stretching, 'cause later in the show they all turned up on stage for a demo. This one dude was on some bonkers drunken-style-ish, it was nice.

Many hits, very few misses - but maybe a few missed hits. Where was "Call Me"? Seems to me a live band woulda been the perfect excuse to bust out the Radiohead-flavad "Superstarr Pt.2", no? However, we were privy to rendition of the jazzed-out "Superstar Part Zero", as well as an extended reggae megamix of "Heaven Only Knows" that segued into a reggae knowledge quiz for the crowd (K said we passed but I ain't so sure. Turns out people know "Get Up, Stand Up" but they're not sure about "War"). Most of the new record was played, and it's pretty difficult to pick a highlight - the entire crowd sang along to "Emcee Murdah"; ladies clapped their hands and shouted out the chorus to "Hit The Road Jack". That was a highlight for sure, come to think of it - K sitting at a little keyboard, plunking out the notes and tossing his head over his shoulder every now and then with a smile, shades and hoodie in full effect, shinin' like Ray Charles' great-grandson or some shit, girls singing...an' they flip the beat and belt out the hit single "Crabbuckit" to a crazy roar.

K-os took several moments to speak to the crowd, asked us to give it up for his uncle and his younger brother, who were in the house, told some stories, and genuinely entertained. The two-hour set only got underway at midnight, so things went late but the crowd stayed live. "Papercutz", "The Love Song" and "Man I Used To Be" all went over large. I gotta ask though - what the fuck was up with the people in the front of the balcony on the left-hand side (like, my left)? I guess too much chronic smoke was drifting up there, 'cause y'all were asleep. There were also several "spotlight" showcases that gave every band member and opportunity to flex. The only thing that coulda made it cooler was if they had actually put a proper spotlight on the performers, but they all ripped it, notably the DJ, whose name I wish I could remember...

The encores were good but I sorta forget what was what now...in hindsight I guess I maybe helped put the balcony to sleep, haha... but yo, K-os came strapped with an electric guitar for one of the last joints... and his hood and shades finally came off too, for about 30 seconds, too, though I never found out if the crowd found him as handsome as Peter Elkas.

Before leaving, the band reprised the tripped-out ending of "B-Boy Stance". Without actually saying it out loud, K tossed a hot "fuck you" at the elitist attitude of hip-hop conformists (who probably weren't there) by making everyone in the crowd – man, woman and child - proclaim in unison that we, too, are just b-boys, and that it brings us joy.

Tune in to Ear Exam (Saturdays from 2-4pm) to hear how the kids are talking these days. Foul, downright vile.