By: Ryan Lindsay
FRIDAY: SELCI’S EARTH PERSON EP RELEASE PARTY @ The Good Will
FOREFATHERS (DJs ENVOY & WATG STEVE)
DJ G-MA FEELGOOD
Wow, Friday night was an experience. A holistic, eclectic, fully satisfying artistic experience. The Forefathers kicked off my night with an intimate, yet energetic set (I got to the venue late and unfortunately missed Ingrid Gatlin). On stage they performed a live version of their podcast (Forefathers Radio), which is essentially a spontaneous jam session between Envoy, Steve, and any guests involved. The special guest for Friday night was Sapphire Empire’s bassist, Lucas Redekop. The whole set felt so personal, as if you and your closest friends were in the studio vibing out while Envoy, Steve and Lucas crafted beats from pure musical telepathy and a wide selection of vinyl. They put on heat track after heat track for each other to freestyle on, whether it was Steve and Envoy freestyling on the mic, or Lucas doing his thing on the bass. While the Forefathers hyped up the crowd, Lucas spoke solely with his 6-stringed bass, and it felt like everyone could feel what he was saying.
I’m going to be real with you right now, reader. I stepped outside for a bit, grabbed some pizza next door, and pretty much missed everything else that happened between the end of the Forefathers set and when Selci came on.
Before starting, Selci thanked everyone she could for helping her project become a reality, rejoiced at the approval of the Blue Dot campaign in Manitoba (the David Suzuki campaign for an environmental bill of rights), and urged everyone to “fucking go vote!” Artist, poet, and rapper Nereo II joined her on stage, coming out in a scarf that fully covered his face. They connected with a few duets of electronic keys and soulful singing from Selci, mixed with Nereo’s poetic flow and impactful messages (among other things he rapped about being yourself and the restrictions of chasing after wealth). After a couple tracks together, Gaby Cardenas and Lucas (of Sapphire Empire), and the Forefathers got on their guitars and MPCs, respectively, to back up Selci's singing and her own guitar playing. It was an enchanting mix of folk, electropop, funk and soul that penetrated the crowd, spearheaded by Selci's voice.
Yofidelic, a.k.a. Kalliane Brémault, got up on stage and added to the eclectic nature of the show with dance. There was some intangible, almost indescribable connection between the music being played and the dancing. It was and wasn’t breakdancing: it was freestyle in the sense of the movements being so free. Although I don’t know anything about dancing, I could recognize that the idiosyncratic movements of her body really connected with Selci's singing, as if Kalliane was in a trance. It was like the dancing was purely coming from her subconscious, and for the few minutes of her set the id completely took over. Although being apart from that purely musical family, and the process of Selci making her album, it felt like everyone on stage reunited as a family for the end of the show. That night, the air at the Good Will was saturated with happiness and creative fulfilment.
SATURDAY: GRIPPIN GRAIN @ Union Sound Hall
DJs LONNIE CE, FOOTWERK, & CO-OP
I didn’t go to Grippin’ Grain. It’s not because I’m ‘too cool’ or ‘over it’ or whatever; it’s because I was at a social that I had already promised to go to. I could write a summary of the social in one run-on sentence: so many white people, I didn't really know anyone there, I felt awkward, I didn’t drink because I drove, but they played Return of the Mack; so a solid 3/10. I heard Grippin' Grain, however, described with the following adjectives: lit, funky, jammin', Future-heavy, etc. It sounded awesome. Also, apparently Freddie Gibbs was there too. Do you know where Freddie Gibbs wasn’t? At a social in St. Vital.
SUNDAY: FREDDIE GIBBS @ Union Sound Hall
Chris Bennett killed it. He really went harder than any opener I’ve seen for a major rapper. For most bigger shows like this you can skip over the opening acts without missing much, but Bennett had the crowd jumping with his booming energy and sharp raps. It was inspiring to see so much love shown to a local act, that is, genuine love for being good and being from Winnipeg, not just for being from Winnipeg.
Gibbs’ DJ got on at midnight, and the 15 minute wait between the DJ and Freddie Gibbs getting on seemed like an eternity, especially because he kept the crowd on edge for that whole time. In the middle and at the end of every song was a call to get louder and louder for Freddie Gibbs, and although the tracks were fantastic I was getting impatient. Then it happened: Freddie Gibbs walked out to the stage in all black, wearing a hoodie and an ESGN bandana covering his face like he was going to rob the whole crowd. He first played Still Livin’ and then Lay it Down, arguably the two hardest tracks from his albums BFK and ESGN, respectively. Those two tracks are solely for doing wild and aggressive shit, like skating massive handrails, fighting bouncers, or moshing at a Freddie Gibbs show. This is probably why 2 fights almost broke out in the first 20 minutes of the show. 1/3 of the crowd was a sweaty pit of kids jumping around, losing their minds to the music, and I have no idea what the other 2/3s looked like because I was busy getting hit in the face by elbows and also losing my mind to the music. The rest of the night, from what I remember, involved the crowd sparking up lots of weed, constant chants of "fuck po-lice", and Freddie leaving Winnipeg with no doubt that he deserves to be in the conversation for this decade's top rappers. The man raps his ass off.
Freddie played for around an hour. The show was exhaustive and cathartic, and as I stood outside of Union, with a shirt drenched in sweat, panting to get air after expelling all my energy towards that performance, a quote Freddie Gibbs said was ringing in my ears. In fact, it was a quote I've heard many rappers who come to Winnipeg for the first time say, in one way or another: “I fuck with Winnipeg, I’ll be back here”.