Hip-Hop Trio BadBadNotGood Makes Impressive Local Debut

Concert Review

click to enlarge Hip-Hop Trio BadBadNotGood Makes Impressive Local Debut
Emanuel Wallace
For the past few years, Mahall's 20 Lanes has been home to the summertime LKWD Music Festival. However, this year there's a massive construction effort on Madison Avenue. So instead of holding a day-long festival and forcing people to deal with that headache, the good people at Mahall's decided to host a summer series of shows instead. The series kicked off in June with Shabazz Palaces and has included other acts like Benjamin Booker and Mr. Twin Sister. This time around, Toronto-based trio BadBadNotGood was the featured act. You can see a slideshow of photos from the concert here

Matthew Tavares, Chester Hansen and Alexander Sowinski met each other through a jazz program at Humber College in Toronto back in 2010, with a deep love and respect for hip-hop being the tie that bound them together. Over the next few years, the trio has cranked out both original material and covers of songs by the likes of A Tribe Called Quest, Odd Future and Kanye West, among others. A cover of Gucci Mane's "Lemonade" is one of their oldest and most popular tunes. Their third album, simply called III, was released in 2014 and was their first album of entirely original numbers. An album with Ghostface Killah, Sour Soul, was released earlier this year.

At the start of the night, the atmosphere at Mahall's was cool — both figuratively and literally, as the air conditioning swirled around while people filed into Mahall's and surrounded the stage.

The first act up to bat was supreme turntablist (and occasional Scene contributor) p. stoops. His intergalactic and spacey beats had just enough funk and soul in the breaks to satisfy both the dusty-fingered hip-hop head and your average hipster alike. Fake Species, a punk and hip-hop inspired quintet, performed a few high energy numbers that definitely got the crowd amped up for the night's headliner.

Although the trio of BadBadNotGood has performed with world renowned musicians, not a shred of pretentiousness could be seen as they found their way to the Mahall's stage to set up their instruments. Hansen carefully taped down his bass sample pads while Sowinski tightened up his snares and Tavares made sure that his chords rang loud and clear before stepping away to take a few minutes to gather before performing. A chant of "BBNG" started up but quickly faded out. Moments later, the three re-emerged to the stage to a rousing round of applause. Sowinski took to the mic and gave it up once more for the preceeding bands and explained that it was their first time playing in Ohio.

The BadBadNotGood set started off on the jazzy side with tunes like "Triangle," "Can't Leave The Night" and "Velvet". Joining the trio on stage for a few songs was saxaphonist Leland Whitty. Tracks like the TNGHT cover "Bugg'n" had a bit of an harder edge to them — almost to the point of industrial rock. It was at this point when the audience let loose and began to mosh and crowd surf. BBNG was feeding off of the energy and the place was electric. The near 80-minute set came to a close with "CS60" and "Bastard/Lemonade," the former being covers of songs by Tyler, the Creator and Gucci Mane. The crowd was more than appreciative of the effort, with many hanging around to talk with the band over at the merch table. The crew can bring it to you however you want it and as it turns out — these guys may not be so bad after all.
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Emanuel Wallace

Emanuel Wallace is a photographer and journalist from Cleveland, Ohio. He has been the staff photographer for Cleveland Scene magazine since 2014. In the past, he has contributed to Cleveland.com, Destination Cleveland and the Call & Post, among other outlets. In his spare time, Emanuel likes to experiment with...
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