Monday, September 29, 2014

Mooch Brown, real hip hop, and how not to treat prospective fans

Performers, read this if you like. Ignore it if you want. I'm just a fan who enjoys music, has written about it a bit, and has been to more shows, both national and local, than I can count.

Two things at live music events annoy me to no end:
  • Fans holding up phones to record entire performances
  • Rappers performing songs with pre-recorded lyrics
I can't stop fans from holding up their phones, as much as I would love to. But my aversion to pre-recorded lyrics led me to an unfortunate exchange with a local Tampa DJ/performer.

Last Saturday, I went to Mooch Brown's Hip Hop Saturdays at Pegasus Lounge in Tampa. This is a small venue showcasing local acts. It's not Madison Square Garden and Jay-Z. This is the grassroots of hip-hop. I've been to plenty of these type of shows and know many hip-hop artists who perform at this level.

Mooch Brown's show failed to meet even these grassroots expectations.

While at the show, I tweeted some disappointment.


Finally, I looked at Mooch Brown, the DJ and host, to raise the level of the acts.

Fair? I think so. I spent $7 and I wasn't happy. Too many artists getting on stage rapping to songs with their own lyrics. Artists even let the recording rap the verses while they only shouted the last few words of their lines and hyped their songs. They turned their back on the audience, mumbled, and leaned on one-dimensional tropes such as "hustlin'", "grindin'", and "bitches and hoes". Not to mention way too much "nigga".

I understand beginning artists may use basic subject matter while they work on their stage presence. They may resort to basic rhymes in their first-ever songs. Ok. But there still needs to be evidence of hard work.

The only redeeming act in the show was a soul/R&B group who performed with live instruments. While the sounds was a bit off - acoustics or equipment, perhaps - they were cohesive and talented. They looked like they took pride in their craft. And most important, they were entertaining.

Following the live act, Mooch Brown played a mix of songs. The band cleared the stage, and they and their fans left, leaving Pegasus Lounge nearly empty.

20 minutes later, Mooch Brown still played his own DJ mix. Meanwhile, there were still at least two remaining local artists hoping to get on stage. Then Mooch did something I have never seen a DJ do: he played his own songs, ran to the stage, and rhymed over his lyrics. He did this for at least three songs. At nearly 2AM. For the 10 people left at Pegasus Lounge.

A little after 2AM, one of the remaining artists left, convinced they weren't going on stage. I left shortly thereafter. When I made it home, I dropped a final tweet.
The show was not $7 well-spent.

The next morning, I awoke to a response from Mooch Brown.
A personal attack to a paying customer after I critiqued his show. Classy.

Mooch Brown also decided to criticize me, hiding behind the "real hip hop" cliche, saying I had no idea what I was talking about.

What I tweeted wasn't a review, again as a paying customer, it was observations. But instead of fighting, I asked for Mooch Brown's insight, because if I didn't know what I was talking about, maybe he could help me understand.

Then I followed Mooch Brown on twitter. Perhaps if he would not directly engage a prospective fan, maybe somewhere along the way, he would provide me insight as to what his thoughts are on "real hip hop". Maybe I missed something.

Today, Mooch Brown blocked me. Instead of engaging, he refused dialogue.

That's not how you win fans.

I would not recommend supporting Mooch Brown's music and shows if that is how he treats people. I know I won't be at any more of his performances. Nor will I be at any show he is booked on.

I am not a fan.

Friday, September 5, 2014

National Lampoon, Leaked Photos, and Voyeur Culture

In 1985, Clark Griswold and his family traveled to Europe. While in London, Clark mischievously recorded his wife getting out of the shower. Ellen then did a seductive dance for her husband and the two commenced in intimate moments while the camera recorded. A few days later, while the family was in Paris, their camera was stolen.

Several days after the theft, Ellen saw a picture of herself during the recorded moments in an advertisement on the side of a bus. The advertisement was for an adult movie. As to be expected, she was embarrassed and angry at her husband for not erasing the material.

In the wake of the latest theft of celebrity intimate photos, is the above scenario still funny?

Also, who do you think is to blame - if anyone - in the above scenario?
  • Ellen Griswold

  • Clark Griswold

  • The Paris thief

  • The distributor

  • The bus company for promoting

  • The market for such a video
Personally, I hate "blame". People get too busy blaming and pointing fingers, and not fixing problems. What's done is done. After the incident occurs, the next step is to make sure it doesn't happen again. In the Griswold case, that might mean Clark is never able to operate the camera again. Or they don't make intimate videos again. Or they never hand their camera to strangers again. Or they ensure the thief is prosecuted to the utmost extent of the law, intimidating potential thieves. Or they could start a campaign trying to change the voyeur culture. Either way, effective countermeasures may be taken.

Or not.

Monday, September 1, 2014

My favorite Tampa Bay music venues

A few weeks ago, the Tampa Bay Times (who I have written for) published an "Ultimate Bar Guide" for the Tampa Bay area. One of the sections they divided bars into was the best places in Tampa Bay to see live music. Their list:
  • The Ale and the Witch (St. Pete)

  • The Brass Mug (Tampa)

  • The Orpheum (Tampa)

  • Pelican Pub (St. Pete)

  • Hideaway Cafe (St. Pete)

  • Uncle Mike's Smokehouse Grill (Plant City)
I've never been to three of their six venues and probably should go, as the TBT crew are well-versed in their area music and their recommendations are probably pretty good.

Here is my list of best music venues in Tampa Bay. It is slightly different.
  1. The Brass Mug (Tampa) - raw, loud, and isolated, despite being 5 minutes from University of South Florida. Best metal bar in the area seems to still be a work in progress after move to new location. Bands I've seen there: Obituary, Cannibal Corpse, Secrets She Kept

  2. Crowbar (Tampa) - wide array of genres helps. Perfect venue for Ol' Dirty Sundays weekly hip-hop night. Bands I've seen there: Obituary, Talib Kweli, DJ Scratch, RJD2, Weekend Nachos, several local shows.

  3. Hideaway Cafe (St Pete) - I need to go here more often, especially on a blues night. Only been once. Beautiful set-up. Very "unplugged"-esque. As the TBT folks mentioned, the Hideaway Cafe is billed as a "listening room", which is much different than the loud energetic concert vibes I am used to. A place for music listeners.

  4. Skipper's Smokehouse (Tampa) - Eclectic blues, jam, reggae bar. Great vibe. Awesome decor. Would be much higher if not for terrible parking lot. Impossible to find a place to park when they have live music. I've turned around and gone home in frustration a few times. Bands seen here: JJ Grey & Mofro

  5. Jannus Live (St Pete) - Outdoor courtyard venue that was redone a few years ago. Wide array of bookings helps. Being on a block with other bars, clubs, and pizza places is also a plus. Bands I've seen there: George Clinton, Wu-Tang Clan, Mobb Deep.
Places I need to go to that could make the list:
  • Ybor City Jazz House (Tampa) - New live jazz place in Ybor. Place for "grown folks". Dress code required. DJ Sandman, who I have interviewed, DJs upstairs on Saturday night.

  • Ringside Cafe (St. Pete) - Haven't visited since they moved to their new location near Jannus Live. Live blues and rock puts this place high on my "must-see" list.

  • Hard Rock Cafe (Tampa) - Been for food, not for concerts. Great environment. My favorite place to people watch. Growing reputation as a place for good rock.

Other places in the Tampa Bay area I've seen music (bands I've seen in parentheses):
  • The amphitheater (Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Eric Clapton, Robert Randolph, Alice in Chains, Velvet Revolver, Incubus)

  • Ruth Eckerd Hall (BB King)

  • Tampa Bay Times Forum (Pearl Jam, Kid Rock)

  • State Theater (Sevendust, Clutch, Aesop Rock, House of Pain)

  • Ritz Ybor (Sevendust, Southern Darkness Fest, Rodrigo & Gabriela, Black Label Society)

  • The Orpheum (Southern Darkness Fest)

  • Local 662 (local bands)

  • Fubar (Secrets She Kept, local bands)

  • Pegasus Lounge (local bands)