notes from a journey through Chicago's cultural landscape...

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Location: Chicago, Illinois, United States

...this is not about me, this is about my city - a living document of Chicago's art's scene, a memoir of concerts I've been to & performances I've seen, a jaded scribe's small sampling of the many offerings of this vibrant cosmopolitan city that I'm lucky enough to call home. I work the city as the city works me, all of us connected in varying degrees, here i pay tribute to our evolving soundtrack, I plug praiseworthy endeavors & try to give a little back... Together with my peers we paint this crossroads with every shade we can find, in your mediums & mine, i run with deep house deviants & wrinkled blues cats, youngun' b-boy crews & quirky circus brats, snobby eclectic DJs & electric painters laboring on projected displays, film makers armed with mini-DVs & picky chefs sculpting tricky masterpieces out of vegan grease... i kick it with slam poets & theater geeks, powerbook producers & fashionista freaks, photoshop fellowships & choreographer hips, while jazz cats blow digital epics through pursed bebop lips... i'm at the nexus of the next wave of Chicago sound - this is where i share the stories of all the beauty I've found...

Thursday, April 07, 2005

Cyro Baptista & Beat the Donkey @ Hot House

Scored two free tickets to Hot House via a Flavorpill contest! Ya gotta love anyone who will give you free tix just for knowing random music trivia...
Anyhow, my friends Hillary & Geoff wanted to check this show out as well, since they were already familiar with the ridiculous phenomenon known as "Beat the Donkey," so we headed down to Hot House together for what would prove to be a truly great show. We missed Chicago Samba, the opening band, because we arrived late, but Cyro Baptista and his rather large group of cohorts were busy setting up their incredibly elaborate stage rig. Here's some of the toys this group put to use over the course of the show:
A Day-Glow PVC Pipe device straight out of a Blue Man Group performance
A plugged in melodica
A samurai sword
A tap dancer
A set of timpanis
A set of Djembes
A full Drum Kit
A set of rigged-up original drums operated by levers and pedals
A grand piano
An organ
And more assorted insanity that I can't remember.

With vocals in Portuguese (Cyro Baptista was born and raised in Brazil before he became a New Yorker), Japanese, & English, and a formidable drum-core like rhythmic assault, this group was a lot of fun to watch and listen to. They came out all waving wind wands and then stretched out piece by piece into a stretched set of jams that spotlighted various members of the group, from the curly-haired pianist to the jumpy drummer to the tap dancing, samurai-sword wielding percussionist, to the smiling dreadlocked Djembe player from Rio. Equal parts performance art and jam session, I was really happy to have had the chance to experience the hysterical glee that characterized "Beat the Donkey." With a deeply Brazilian approach to combining rhythmic elements, this ensemble still managed to incorporate some free jazz, some deep funk, some raw blues, and some absolutely nutty polyrhythms into what was a most enjoyable concert. As Hot House was the designated venue for the afterparty to Widespread Panic's earlier performance this evening, the crowd was full of happy hippy types doing that disctintly phish-like dancing. It's hard to argue with a bunch of dreadlocked types determined to have fun, and I'm happy to know that I'm no so damn old as to try... Cyro & Beat the Donkey took us where they wanted to go, and I'm glad I got the chance to admire the view...


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