Nothing Strange at G- E-
Updated: May 6, 2019
[notice: modifications have been made to this article to appease the concerns of particular parties.]
Another Friday night plagued with the melancholy of a perennial torrential downpour. My current pair of walking shoes are well worn and beginning to fray along the sole, so my feet were soaked where water could seep through. Stepping into G- E- I took off my shoes and left them by the entrance; no one in the house was Canadian, I just wanted to let my feet breath. As is tradition, I arrived mid set.
MG3 were fresh on the scene, taking it easy and playing it cool with some loose jazz fusion. Their bassist [____________________DESCRIPTION _OMITTED____________________] Rocking a fender bass, his sound was low and muddy; appropriate for the jazz style this pseudo-funk rock outfit was going for. Every now and then he’d crank up the volume and modify his sound with an intense wobble effect; this got the crowd hollering. The drummer was remarkably tight with his rolling fills and disrespectful abuse of the snare. When it came to technique and play style, is was obvious he was the most experienced of the trio, as he’d unload a gorgeous bouquet of heavy hits and punchy phrases; never lagging or losing beat, there were times when him and the bassist would try to bounce off each other with some improvisation, but it was clear that Jarrett was calling the shots with their free-form banter. The band’s lead was Matt Gordeuk – keeping it light and mellow with a smokescreen tee and funky Strat noodling. Sound often soaked in some kind of phaser effect, his play style was fluid and funk driven; plenty of scratchy strum patterns and gentle caresses of the fret board. With a slight touch of reverb, his tone was a bit too shallow for my tastes, with his all-digital pedal board being at fault; though one of his “wah” styled pedals touted an impressive collection of features, such as a scintillating pitch shift effect, that imbued a playful spirit to his simple jazz-funk repertoire. After a song or two the bass got heavy and licks became sinister; suitable to score the sly prowl of a devious noir villain. Suddenly an MC came up and freestyled over MG3’s lumbering rhythm. His flow was decent, but his lines were lost in the band’s playing; this feature was probably unrehearsed and just intended as a fun cameo. After seven minutes or so, the MC faded back into the crowd, and the funk trio closed out their set with a spacious improvisational track, giving every player the opportunity to solo and show off their chops. Matt favored flicking his frets and fingering scales, while the bassist tried to muster up phrases on the spot, struggling to stay in time; it was as if parents from The Peanuts were castigating through his amplifier. All in all, a solid set that, if later in the night, would have totally been dance worthy.
As soon as one act was through, another was already up; a seemingly instant transition between artists made possible by the underwhelming fact that MG3 was Frisco Vega’s back-up band. Frisky Frisco boss fellow who juggled between laying down some sly lines on the mic with one hand and sipping on a bottle a liquor with the other. With less solos but just as many fills, MG3 stuck to the same funk motifs as before, but practiced a bit of restraint to let Visco’s vocals shine through. His flow was on beat and sincere; the song’s covered intimate topics like loving THC/LSD, loving his girl, and loving the minivan him and a friend would cruise in, back in the good ol’ days. People were body to body in the basement, swaying to the band’s groove and savoring every honest line to come out of the MC’s mouth. I let myself kick back and get lost in the music; it was strange, I was actually enjoying what a band was playing for once and didn’t feel the need to try and pry apart what could be improved with their sound. What can I say, the music was just good. When the set was over, Vega vanished and MG3 were stuck packing up, so this was my chance to walk upstairs to get some fresh air. In good spirits, I took a step outside and embraced the life affirming euphoria that music can inspire; feet firm in refreshing backyard mud.
The third act was a touring group from Virginia; another hip-hop outfit backed by a three-piece band. Free Mckinley, led by Mckinley Dixon with pigtail buns, had a fantastic stage presence that captivated the audience. Miming to his fluid rhymes across the basement floor, a palpable confidence and charisma was emanating from this cool cat front man. The band had a much cooler vibe than MG3, focused less on spontaneity with their playing and more on keeping a grounded but energetic flow for Mckinley to perform over. His movements seemed choreographed and the band was well rehearsed; though, the lead would indulge himself in jamming out with some members of the audience during his more cajoling hooks. The guitarist had thin long hair and played rhythm with a crunchy telecaster; the tone was crisp and all analogue. A few riffs and bridges had a bit of an “experimental rock” flare to them, reminiscent of nu metal or Primus styled avant-rock. Percussion and bass were low and hard as rock; as a unit this outfit was able to produce a live sound that transcended the meager limits of a basement. At one point I closed my eyes and lost myself again; it was like listening to a studio recording. The beats were infectious and in review it was one of the more fluid and “professional” performances I have seen in a basement.
The closer for the night was Hill Boys, a New Brunswick hip-hop due comprised of MC Radcliff and a white dude on a Roland Sampler. Their sound was murky, with stolen city-pop beats oozing like sludge from the PAs. To be totally honest, four hip-hop acts in a row sort of burned me out, so I spent most of the set outside or bumming around upstairs, but from what I caught, their sound seemed to be lo-fi and dreary. At one point the MC got on the floor to do the worm, and I got flash backs of being at a middle school function; it was strange. Cumbersome and thick like smog, they’re a good act for kicking your ass to bed after a long night of soulful music.