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N.A.S.A. w/ Fatlip, Pase Rock and Special Guests
Wednesday, August 12th @ The El Rey

N.A.S.A.

1. First, the El Rey is an amazing place to see a show. This is far from the beer-soaked dives I’m used to seeing shows in. Both the floor and the walls are covered in red carpeting, three huge chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and additional wall-mounted chandeliers line the sides. On top of that, it’s an intimate venue with not a bad spot in the house. No pillars or balconies to block the view of the stage. As I get older, I have an appreciation for venues like this. Especially when they have such a nice spot and still are willing to book acts that might normally seem out of place in such a venue.

2. Fatlip (yes, Fatflip of the Pharcyde) opened the show with a half-hour DJ set. Pharcyde is one of my favorite hip-hop acts of the nineties, but I had never caught them (or Fatlip) live before. I think Fatlip is a solid MC, with some of his rhymes from the Pharcyde being among the most memorable. But, as much as I love him, he’s just not that great of a DJ. His set was steeped heavily in early nineties R&B, which isn’t a bad thing, I guess. But I have to admit that when he busted out Boyz II Men’s “Motown Philly” part of me was like, “Really?”

3. The evening can be summed up in two words: technical difficulties. Fatlip was, albeit admittedly and jokingly, fucking up his mixes. The other DJ opener, Pase Rock, couldn’t get his laptop to work and instead had to rely on whatever music Fatlip had in his iTunes library. And even N.A.S.A. themselves were suffering from some of their video feeds not working properly. The crowd was patient with it, but you could feel the frustration of the performers on stage. No one said, “This is a clusterfuck,” but I definitely got a sense that at any minute those very words would be shouted from the stage.

4. I was excited to see N.A.S.A. I dug their debut album (“The Spirit of Apollo”) and was excited to see how the tracks from that album would be translated into a live show. Unfortunately, even after seeing the show last night, I still have no idea how most those songs would translate into a live show. For a huge bulk of their 75-minute set, at least a good 80% of it, Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon chose to basically spin records. From the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It,” N.A.S.A. spent most of the evening playing other people’s songs. And that’s fine, I guess, but it’s definitely not what I expected. There are so many tracks on “The Spirit of Apollo” that I consider to be works of art, and it would have been nice to hear those songs. They did play a handful of them, I guess, including “Whachadoin?” and “Money,” but hearing those songs was a little expected.

5. The highlight was their performance of “Way Down.” Special guests Money Mark and Barbie Hatch joined the duo on stage for what proved to be the best song of the night. Another memorable moment came when Fatlip joined them for some impromptu verses of both the Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” and the Chemical Brothers’ “The Salmon Dance.” (To be fair, they did also briefly dip into their track “Hip-Hop.”) Those moments were fun but, again, I came to hear N.A.S.A. Maybe next time.

Here’s a video for “Way Down,”

-Shady

PS: I wasn’t able to shoot photos at the show, but click here if you’re interested in seeing images of the performance.

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this video was released for the single “Money” from the upcoming N.A.S.A. full-length, “The Spirit of Apollo.”

Now, they’ve released a second video, this time for the track “Hip Hop.” This one features Slim Kid Tre and Fatlip of The Pharcyde, and KRS-One.

Enjoy!

The Farmer Man,

-Shady

…right here:

Casanatra “Death Ride” – Casanatra sounds like Tenacious D, but minus all the ridiculous lyrics. Seriously, they even do the low-to-high pitch thing that is Jack Black’s calling card. The Minneapolis trio compares their sound to that of Queens of the Stone Age and Foo Fighters (both understandable considering my previous comparison), but then they go on to say they can be “filed under” Led Zeppelin. Not. Even. Close. Part of me thinks there’s a level of parody going on here (after all, they do have a track titled “Shoot the Cow”), but the other part of me thinks they’re serious and setting themselves up to be parodied (after all, the do have a track titled “Shoot the Cow”).

The Pharcyde “Bobby Evans Mix” – The Pharcyde is still one of my favorite hip-hop acts; I think both of the two albums they released in the group’s short lifetime are perfect. So do they need to be fucked with in a 40-track DJ mix by Los Angeles’ Bobby Evans? Well… maybe. Some of the samples are great (like Hot Chip’s version of “Passin’ Me By,” or Jay Dee’s instrumental remix of “Runnin'”) but, for the most part, these moments are fleeting. Just as you start finding a groove the sample changes, throwing one’s musical attention span for a loop. Just how short are the samples? Well, let me put it to you this way: This 40-track disc clocks in at just under 48 minutes long. Yeah, they are that short. This might work on the dancefloor of some club, but when I’m sitting at home listening to it on a stereo it’s a little ADD. Something else that bothers me, and I might be getting really picky here, but it’s inconsistent in its censorship. Some of the samples at the beginning of the disc had all of the “shits” and “niggaz” edited out of them; but then, a few tracks later, they’re dropping “fucks” and “bitches” like it’s nothing. I understand that Bobby Evans had to work with whatever The Pharcyde had recorded in their brief history, but it just didn’t feel cohesive. Either use samples with swearing or without. That’s it. It’s the equivalent of having a book that starts and ends all-ages, but then there’s a really intense sex scene smack-dab in the middle of the story. Now, with all that negative shit being said, I’m glad I got this. Like I said, I love The Pharcyde, and of course it’s not perfect. And, to be honest, if I wanted perfection I’d listen to the actual albums. But for a DJ remix of these works, it’s still pretty good. If you’re a fan of the group and their original work, don’t let my picky little shit stop you from checking it out.

IDENTiTY VA “Fish Swim in Schools” – I’ve gotta give this Richmond, Virginia-based trio a lot of credit. This release (I’m assuming their first) was put together entirely by them. It was played, recorded and produced by them. Christ, the lead singer even did the album’s cover art, so they’re definitely trying. They label themselves as being alt/indie rock, but their scope is a little more scattered. The first track on the disc, “Remember,” reminds me of a recent Beck tune, though I can’t remember which one off the top of my head. (There’s irony for you, huh?) The rest of the disc strays from this, dipping in and out of different genres, appearing as if they’re trying to get a feel for who they really are, what genre of music they want to create, and how to make it all click. If they continue to pursue this path rather than relying on the easier road of “What will the radio play?” they might be on to something. Consider this disc a very rough sketchbook of their sound, with drawings and notes scribbled in, and every other page ripped out.

That’s all. Now I sleep.

Kathy’s snoring,

-Shady

In the player today:

Disc One: Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby “The Original Jam Sessions 1969” – It’s 1969: Quincy Jones and Bill Cosby get together and create amazing jazz-funk gems for Cosby’s sitcom, “The Bill Cosby Show.” Making guest appearances on the album are some of the genre’s most legendary performers, including Milt Jackson and Jimmy Smith, among others. It’s now 2004: Quincy Jones unearths ten of these songs and collects them into one sweet album. Dad is great! He gives us the chocolate cake!

Disc Two: The Pharcyde “Labcabincalifornia” – The sophomore follow-up to what went on to become one of hip-hop’s most legendary debuts, “Labcabincalifornia” isn’t as brilliant or groundbreaking as its predecessor, but it’s still a damn fine record. Listening to it now kind of bums me out because it was the last thing Pharcyde created before fame and fortune came between friends. Of course, they’re “reunited” now, so maybe a third album is in their future. But even if they do produce another one, the dynamic won’t be the same as it was back in the early nineties.

Disc Three: The Black Keys “Thickfreakness” – One of my favorite bands ever. If you know them, you love them. If you don’t know them, you should. Two scraggly-ass white boys from Nowhere, Ohio who, armed only with a drum kit and a guitar, make more noise than a jumbo jet crashing into a freight train. Bearded jumbo jets and trains!

Disc Four: Chromeo “Fancy Footwork” – The Eighties! Trapper Keepers! Scratch ‘n’ Sniff stickers! Jelly shoes! Reagan! Charm bracelets! “Don’t Worry, Be Happy!” Chromeo!

Disc Five: Electric Six “Fire” – I loved this album when it first came out, but haven’t listened to it in a really long time. And you know what? It completely holds up. I feared the shtick of Electric Six might not be as entertaining years later (i.e. Tenacious D, Adam Sandler albums, having sex with me, etc.), but the music is still solid and the lyrics are still funny. I mean, how can one hear a song titled “Naked Pictures (Of Your Mother)” and not laugh?

What are you knobs listening to these days?

Hikky-Burr,

-Shady

Old Poop!