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Concert Sat Jan 31 2009
Long story short, rapper/sanger Phonte of the then-group Little Brother collaborated with Nicolay, a producer located in the Netherlands, in 2002 over IM and email and created an album. Connected was a testament to not only the universality of music, but also how the digital world is letting people meet and collaborate, even when separated by an ocean. The album introduced Phonte singing in long form, something that he'd only hinted at in the Little Brother recordings.
Their second album, Leave It All Behind, released late last year and recorded in a more conventional fashion, features slower compositions that allow Phonte and guests YahZarah. Muhsinah and Darien Brockington to really showcase their voices and present songs that aren't cookie-cutter love R&B.
Friday night, the Double Door welcomed Phonte, Nicolay, YahZarah, Darien Brockington, ZO!, and the Els rhythym section for what looked to be a sold out show. Doing spot dates around the country, and due in Cincinnati the next night, the show began nearly 2 hours after its advertised 9pm start time. An above average DJ set (note to DJs: if you're playing a song the crowd loves, STOP TALKING OVER IT) kept a very chill crowd from getting too antsy.
It's refreshing to see artists having fun themselves, and Phonte has that charisma that just makes you have a good time yourself. It kept his stagemates loose and enjoying themselves, and it's quite clear he enjoys what he's doing. The show was tightly produced, with only a few sound issues with microphone levels and such, but all in all, it was two hours of every enjoyable music played to an appreciative crowd.
On a personal note, I note with happiness that the vibe all night was chill, and while this seemed to be a show fans would get the most out of, it was nigh impossible to not feel the music. The live instruments backed up the vocals perfectly, and while they didn't get a chance to shine individually, except for a brief period at the end of the show which turned into the prelude for the encore, the musicianship was absolutely incredible.
So a duo, brought together by technology, proved that not only is the production model a rewarding one, but the live show, bringing the music to the people, doesn't suffer because of that circumstance. Instead, good music remains good music, no matter how it's produced, and, quite frankly, when you're in the middle of a crowded floor at the Double Door, singing along to a track borne of an IM conversation or last year's more traditionally produced tracks, you could care less how it all came to be.