Thursday, August 2, 2012

For the Naysayers:

Boston-based rapper H.W. is accompanied by DJ Halo and E.S.H. the Monolith at a not so sold-out show. But just because the place isn't packed doesn't mean the sound has to suffer. And it didn't.
For the Naysayers
H.W. and DJ Halo at Inn Termission / Show Review
August 2
by Cody Jones
For the Naysayers
H.W. and DJ Halo at Inn Termission /
Show Review
Performed July 31
Words By Cody Jones
Part of paying dues as an indie rap artist is learning how to adapt to crowds of all different sizes, buzzes, sexes, and levels of enthusiasm. I've seen far too many talented artists arrive at poorly attended shows just to complain to the few people who actually paid to get in that there aren't more people in the audience, leaving the patrons of the show feeling awkward and embarrassed to be there. However, this was not the case at Inn Termission Lounge when the "Only Rule: Eyes Out" Tour with H.W., ESH the Monolith, and DJ Halo came through and rocked a crowd of mostly rappers, rappers' girlfriends, local hillbilly drunks, bar employees, and a few random loose-leaf people who actually follow this rare breed of indie rapper. It's a strange thing when the more veteran a performer someone is, the more comfortable they are with playing to practically no crowd.

The first of the touring acts to take the non-elevated, hardwood bar floor that posed as the stage for the night was rapper H.W. accompanied by DJ Halo. I've had the opportunity to see H.W. perform several times in the past, in both Pittsburgh and his hometown of Boston. His sets are always overtly personal, and his songs can be depressing to the point you don't want to dance along but would rather read his lyrics from a teleprompter and give him a vigorous "hell yeah" every time he vents about some heart break or rejection you're all too familiar with. When H.W. couldn't convince the stubborn crowd to transfer from the dimly-lit corners of the back of the bar to the seats upfront where he was, he decide to plug both mic cables together until he was able to take the show to them. At a few points in his set you even saw him sit down at someone's table and rap directly to whomever he was sitting with and let his song about failed relationships unfold like a script to a movie starring John Cusack, more than likely something along the lines of High Fidelity.

It was also fun to see the banter between H.W. and DJ Halo. From DJ Halo slipping Disturbed samples in the tracks to try and make the rapper slip up, to H.W. forcing Halo to take his shirt off and calling him "the wolf" because he runs through neighborhoods with only pants, jogging shoes, and his inhumanly hairy torso. I think that part of the set was unconsciously dedicated to the ladies in attendance.

The next and last of the touring acts to perform was ESH the Monolith, who was also accompanied by DJ Halo. The night before the Pittsburgh show ESH let the party get to him (Trenton, NJ will do that) and jumped off the roof of their tour car and injured his foot a bit. This left him limping around like a broken dog you just don't have the heart to put down. Fortunately for self medication, i.e. alcohol, by the end of ESH's set he was able to perform in virtually no pain.

At the start of his set he was hopping around in circles on one foot like a pirate without a compass as he rapped. And by the end he was glossy-eyed, rim of his hat folded up like a bike messenger who dresses too much like Suicidal Tendencies, and standing flat on both feet playfully bickering with the closest attendee of the show, who also happened to be the prettiest girl. Coincidence? I think not. At one point during his sing-alongs he literally handed his mic to the nervous crowd member we'll coin as "pretty girl", telling her to rap the chorus for him, but instead she blushed up and sheepishly giggled to her friend. After that when his catchy chorus came on he told everyone NOT to sing along, and just stood there while his back-tracking vocals dared viewers of the show not to sing along - an effort that proved to be futile - all the while leaving me bewildered as to how he was able to rap so fluently while doing aerobics in the beginning, and then being drunk towards the end. These men were seasoned veterans I tell you.

So let this be a lesson to all you naysayer audience members out there who think it won't be a fun show just because a lot of people won't be there. Sure, the singalong might be a little harder to avoid since there is less of a crowd to blend in with. But trust me, no one there is judging your singing voice. The experience you'll share with the artists will be a lot more personal, and in turn memorable. They're just there to have a good time and share some songs with you regardless of the turnout.

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Be sure to check out the headliners - H.W., ESH the Monolith and DJ Halo - as well as the supporting acts - Fortified PhonetX, Stillborn Identity, Greazy Duzit & Dizzy Dane, and GINO - for more info on new releases, shows, and everything else (including H.W.'s new album).
Posted on August 2, 2012


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