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My Kind of Monday Night

February 9, 2010

felonious.jpgIt's official: Monday is the new Saturday and last night's escapades in San Francisco are proof of this fact.

The evening kicked off with some delicious Brazilian food and then a concert at the Conservatory of Music dedicated to celebrating the new official "sister school" link between the San Francisco Conservatory and The Shanghai Conservatory.

The concert itself was, to be honest, a bit of a yawnfest. Besides a luminous rendition of Jake Heggie's schmaltzy but gorgeous song "What Lips My Lips Have Kissed" by mezzo-soprano Zheng Cao, cellist Emil Miland and Pianist Mack McCray, the event  proceeded in a very monotonous mood. The compositions that made up most of the program - by faculty and students of the Shanghai Conservatory - were all incredibly samey. It seems that the Shanghai Conservatory has a very particular view of how a piece of chamber music should be written. The style can be distilled down to monochrome textures in meandering roughly atonal keys with occasional non-commital flutterings from wind and string instruments and a bit of pitch-bending. Melody was completely absent and there was very little rhythmic drive to any of the pieces on the program.

What a striking (and welcome) contrast it was, then, to head off in the Monday evening drizzle to a nearby venue located under the 101 freeway exit to experience "Live City Revue", a club night at The Coda Lounge run by local hip-hop mavericks Felonious. The event, which started a few weeks ago and happens every Monday night, featured some of the most uplifting and core-rumbling music I've heard live in a while.

Over a couple of hours, I heard Felonious performing several beatbox-infused, intelligent-worded, spiraling numbers, the sounds of a burgeoning beatboxer, Cornbread, a completely enrapturing cover of the John Legend / Andre 3000 R&B hit "Green Light" performed by beatboxer/MC Carlos Aguirre and Joshua Torrez (the star of The Magic Theatre's current production of Oedipus el Rey and a wonderful guitarist/vocalist -- his falsetto left me swooning) and an amazing set by a Frencophile African band whose members played guitar, cora and marimba and sang. The jam session between the band and Felonious was the highlight of the evening. Hip-hop, jazz, folk and African sounds merged effortlessly as the musicians got more and more into the zone of their playing.

I left the Coda Lounge on a vast high. It was of the best Monday nights in memory. What I live city I live in.

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