On Monday, January 26th Sherry and I went to see the Curumin show at CSPS. I was pretty interested to see this show. Curumin is part of the next generation of artists on on the seminal Bay Area Hip-Hop label Quannum. The first generation were primarily Hip Hop acts: DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born, Lateef and Blackalicious, and while the label still signs Rap and Hip Hop acts they have also signed artists who don’t neatly fit into that category: ApSci is closer to an electro act and Honeycut is damn near a synth pop band. One of the labels latest signings Curumin brings a fusion of hip hop, funk, soul and Brazilian styles playing equally the parts of producer and performer.
The show was one of the more spirited shows I’ve seen at CSPS– certainly a departure from regular diet of stripped-down folk-singer songwriter shows I usually attend there. This was also the first show I’d seen that used the actual stage at CSPS. Usually the small acts are on a set of risers on the floor in front of the stage. This fact alone invited some folks to actually get out and “express themselves physically” in Mel Andringa’s words from his funny introduction to the group.
The crowd was somewhere around 40 people and was an interesting mix of people– some of them were “regulars” at CSPS and in support of the organization hit most of the shows, but there were also some new faces and some that I expect were students taking advantage of their inexpensive ticket price.
The theme of Curumin’s latest album Japan Pop Show is his love of record collecting down to the mocked-up record art in the CD liner notes. At times Curumin would shout out “vinyl!” or “Does Cedar Rapids love the vinyl?” At least this reviewer does! Curumin brought two other guys to help reproduce the layered sound of the album. It was an interesting combo, really. Curumin took turns on the trap, the cavaquinho (the electric ukelele-type instrument) and MPC. Lucas Martins (who contributed to Japan Pop Show) played bass and MPC, and Marcelo Effori played drums, percussion and MPC. The fact that they all had MPC sampler/sequencers as an additional instrument allowed them to reproduce much of the sampled parts of Japan Pop Show.
The show centered primarily around Curumin’s two albums– Japan Pop Show and the previous Achados e Perididos, but also threw in a couple of covers including a very well-executed Roy Ayers song “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” and a Nina Simone cover “Mr. Backlash Blues” which he introduced by calling it an American standard and that “it’s good to be here in the United States and be able to play this song” which was met with audience approval. He also threw in some reggae covers for good measure and a few bars of Grandmaster Flash’s “The Message” to show his American influences, although likely missed by the bluehairs that split less than a half-hour into the show.
This tour is only Curumin’s second in the US but you wouldn’t know it based on his comfort on the stage and his ability to warm up a conservative Midwestern Monday night crowd. Halfway through the set he had folks on the floor dancing and we even got a breakdancer!
I suspect that the crowd wasn’t near what he had seen in San Francisco where he was joined on stage by other acts from Quannum with a hometown crowd for the label, but he still put on one of the best shows I’ve seen at CSPS. Talking with some of the other folks at the show they were very impressed and were new fans of Curumin and his pastiche approach to Braziliana.
Earlier that day Curumin and his band recorded a set for Daytrotter in Rock Island so I’m looking forward to that and will be posting about that as soon as they post it. I had an interview with Curumin which I will be posting today.
Click Here to Visit Curumin’s MySpace Page
Click Here to see the full flickr set of pictures I took.