K-OS + Peter Elkas @ Spectrum

By Ashley Wong - Dump the Body in Rikki Lake - 01/08/2005

Peter Elkas’ (ex-Local Rabbits) solo project seemed like a strange match initially when seen opening up for mainstream hip-hop act K-OS. Local man Elkas, now re-located to Toronto, made a nice rock complement to hip-hop artist K-OS. For old Local Rabbits fans, his music has matured. His music now appeals to a much older crowd, incorporating a little bit of blues/soul with some rock and roll. The crowd seemed bored and a little distracted. His full-piece band played well with a relatively short set, setting up the stage for pop star K-OS.

Strangely enough, the moment Peter Elkas’ set ended, the Spectrum suddenly became uncomfortably taken over by loud and rowdy hip-hop/reggae fans. The air in the room became thick with the semblance and atmosphere of a club on St-Laurent. The place seared with McGill jocks, which was more than I could take. The music was pumped up, busting out all the club hits and radio anthems including an old favorite by the Fugees. People were standing on chairs, and the girls were all glammed up, gearing up to shake their booty to the much-anticipated K-OS. I was beginning to understand the appeal of hip-hop dance parties, but the people and atmosphere were just gross.

To me, part of the appeal of K-OS is the production he puts into his music. He incorporates so many different elements into his music so that it is not just straight up hip-hop, which is why Peter Elkas fitted well. K-OS blends hip-hop with jazz and rock instrumentals, even including primary use of the Spanish guitar on his latest album Joyful Rebellion (2004). He manages to do something different yet still remain in the realm of pop. His music is happy, catchy, intelligent and fun. Rather than singing about all the bitches and hoes, ‘bling’ and the Benjamins (which is more like a cock-party than anything else), K-OS sings about music, culture, love, values and life. The audience didn't seem to recognize the difference.

One thing about K-OS is that he has an understanding of communities outside of the ones he mainly draws from. K-OS, born Kheaven Brereto, grew up just outside of Toronto in Ajax, Ontario. In an interview featured on Artist Direct, he explains:

“I grew up in the suburbs around people like Sam [Roberts] and vibes like that. So a little secret to my success in Canada is that I’ve been able to assimilate into the independent rock scene and still remain a hip-hop kid. Because I know those people, I know what they’re about and I know how to vibe with them. And I think that could be a problem for some other artists is that they didn’t really grow up listening to U2 or Siouxsie & the Banshees or The Clash. They see that as rock music and there’s this taboo in hip-hop, that you just don’t do rock. “

In the article he discusses the difference between American and Canadian attitudes in hip-hop, the industry, stardom and music in general. Similarly to the way he could relate to Sam, he could relate to Peter Elkas. His openness to others broadens his audience, appealing to a range of people.

After the DJ got the audience all roiled up, K-OS hits the stage starting off the show with his hit “B-boy Stance”. From the beginning the show had a vibe of a more typical hip-hop show, which did not seem apparent from the openers. K-OS pulled out all the tricks including inviting Peter Elkas to come on stage to sing "Dirty Waters" (which he also sang on the album), stage diving, and some long drawn-out psych rock mash-ups of the Police and Bob Marley tunes. It was an upbeat beginning, but the show began to draw out as the band led into long drawn-out jams. K-OS ended the show with a recognizable favorite (and my personal favorite on the album) “Crucial”, but the band seemed tired from playing for so long, and the song didn’t seem to have the same punch. By this time it was nearing 1am and K-OS had been playing for a significant time. I did not bother sticking around for the encore. K-OS put on a great show, despite the length, and hopes to capture the same respected attention in America as he has in Canada.


Ashley Wong hosts Dump The Body In Ricki Lake Thursdays from noon – 2pm. You can check out more awesome pictures she took of the show here.