Camp Jumoke Benefit Concert featuring Saukrates , the Chicago Bucket Boys , Dwayne Morgan , Eddy Bullen , Harpoon Missile , Cryogenics , Brassmunk , Divine Earth Essence , Natasha Watermelon , Al Beeno , Frank-N-Dank , Melanie Durrant and In Essence at Revival, February 19. Tickets: $15-$20. Attendance: 470. Rating: NNN
A mixed bag of artists who could all lazily fall into the catchall urban category did their thing on a balmy winter day to raise money for Camp Jumoke ( www.jumoke.org ), an group designed to help send children affected by sickle-cell anemia to summer camp. Glitzy Torontonian video helmsman Little X was instrumental in organizing the lineup, and it was a good one - from soul singers like Natasha Watermelon and headliners In Essence to the poetry of Dwayne Morgan and the deep showcasing of various tiers of the GTA's rappers, all corralled by the evening's MC, comedian Russell Peters . His hilarious gags and cultural humour kept the crowd's eyes on the stage and their minds entertained.
Why is it that American acts seem so much more glamorous than Canadians? It's a mystery for the ages. The opening and closing act of the night were probably the most mind-blowing. The Chicago Bucket Boys , a group of Illinois youths discovered and brought to the show by X, wowed the crowd with their frenetic, precise, confident and dextrous drumming. And Detroit's Frank-N-Dank represented themselves the best that evening, bounding onstage and killing their two songs, keeping the crowd hyped and putting on a great mini-show.
The format of a range of acts who each performed a short set (there seemed to be a two-song maximum) made the concert feel more like a variety show than anything else.
Brampton's Harpoon Missile got onstage only to be plagued by a lack of backing music. All was not lost, though, as Harpoon provided an a cappella verse that kept the crowd interested until their music came through. They got great crowd reaction as buff, helmeted MC Warchild , looking like a character from a late-90s computer game, ran around grimacing lasciviously and new MC Life played the classy gangstress.
After local crew Cryogenics finished their tight live-band-assisted set, things began to feel a bit more rushed. Brassmunk came out minus an MC and hurried through a couple of songs, including their video-supported single Big. Saukrates and his hype man strode onstage and launched into Comin' Up, one of the best Canadian hiphop singles in a while. Canada's only man on Def Jam, Sauk followed it up with a hot new one, but the peformance felt a bit disjointed. We could have used more of him, especially since originally scheduled guest K-OS didn't appear.
I should mention, too, that Revival needs some speakers in the back of the club if they want to put on really good-sounding hiphop shows.
Regardless, and rushed or no, the money went to a good cause, the vibe was great and the show was fun. No hate here.