While Converse’s Represent SF concert series at Slim’s was meant to function as a promo for the brand’s grand opening of its flagship store in the city last Friday, the ad was ambitious, to say the least. Running the course of the entire business week, each night was loosely devoted to a different genre: indie rock, hip-hop, electronic, alternative metal and hardcore punk, in that order. Meshing indie up-and-comers with nu-old school veterans and sprinkling in a bit of social media exploitation, the free series presented a kickin’ line-up for the classic line of kicks.
Hot Chip, Tycho, Blackbird Blackbird, Social Studies
The performances at Wednesday night’s edition of Represent SF can really only be described as an eclectic clusterfuck of both synthesized and organic sounds. UK wonky pop danceaholics Hot Chip headlined one of the more party-oriented billings of the week, following solid sets by Social Studies, Blackbird Blackbird and Tycho.
Out of the four, openers Social Studies seemed to be the most orthodox. But their lack of upfront quirkiness wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Alternating appearances between SXSW and Noise Pop since 2009 has resulted in quite a tight live sound. Their decidedly chill marque of new wave succeeded to draw in the crowd for the impending antics.
Next up was Blackbird Blackbird, alias of Mikey Maramag, who DJ’ed a set of his own tunes. Many of these songs were typified by jagged melodies and chunky beats, inlaid with atmospheric samples of echoing guitars, keys and percussion. Basically, Blackbird Blackbird embodies the blogospheric chillwave subgenre. However, Maramag managed to breathe life into the increasingly overused style from behind his effects panel. He provided live vocals rather than relying purely on samples and managed to incite a decent amount of movement in the crowd through the tangible energy he drew from performing his own music.
When the time came for Tycho’s performance, the warmth of the audience’s reception was likely due to the high volume of Tycho fans present. That’s not to say their execution was bad in any way; on the contrary, the instrumental post-rock trio showed they’ve been around the block enough times to know their own moody material backward and forward, switching instruments at a moment’s notice and never flubbing a note. Suffice it to say, their sound would be too placid to carry a set longer than the 30-ish minutes they were given at Represent SF.
At long last, Hot Chip arrived as the only nonlocal band of the night. Their setup was positively crammed onto the stage, with two touring members bolstering the quintet’s line-up. Nevertheless, Hot Chip managed to exude a crazy amount of passion despite the space deficit. Heavily bespectacled frontman Alexis Taylor commanded attention, nasally belting from behind various synths and the occasional guitar. As many as three other members were synth-side at any given moment, and drums were supported by a second set, including a jarringly tropical steel drum. By the end of the show, they managed to prove their prowess as the ultimate club band, with not a still foot in the house.
Angel Haze, 100s, Blackalicious, Deltron 3030
The second installment of the Converse Represent SF series brought us a delectable night of raw energy as the performers made the stage their own with an impeccable array of hip-hop talent.
Berkeley rapper 100s set the tone for the night with a performance that showcased both hits from his debut album, Ice Cold Perm, and the impeccable hair in question. His music is like pimp rap you’d bump rolling 10 mph in a drop-top Cadillac — with a dash of trap. His drawl was infectious, his flow smooth, and his performance of the song “1999” escalated into a dance party as the crowd chanted, “Shake that ass like it’s 1999.”
Rowdy with anticipation for the artists to come, the crowds were treated with an intermission soundtrack that ranged from golden-era classics like Master P’s “Make ‘Em Say Uhh” to the rowdy Lil Jon club hit, “Get Low.”
The moment she came into the spotlight, Angel Haze commanded the attention of every single person in the room. Striding from one side of the stage to the next in a black snapback and layered hoodie, the rapper delivered vicious line-after-line of favorites “New York” and “Werkin’ Girls,” off last year’s Reservation EP. In addition, she previewed two new tracks, presumably from her upcoming LP, Dirty Gold, and even made her way off the stage for some much-deserved love from the crowd. Her delivery was near flawless, and seeing her perform live was proof enough that the 21-year-old has the potential to be one of the best female rappers in the game, so keep watch.
Next up was the legendary hip-hop act Blackalicious, which consists of rapper Gift of Gab and DJ/producer Chief Xcel of Sacramento. When the duo performed in Oakland earlier this year, their energy was spectacular. Tonight was no exception. Gift of Gab, along with guest Lateef the Truthspeaker and others, brought out classics like “Chemical Calisthenics,” “Blazing Arrow” and “Rhythm Sticks.”
By 9:30 p.m., Slim’s was buzzing with excitement as everyone was riding well on the high tide that only good music, dancing and legal (or illegal) substances could provide. It was time for Juicy J to make his appearance. Smoke billowed up toward the ceiling as the trap god and twerk advocate came onstage and announced that he had “smoked so much motherfucking weed today” and was ready to “turn up.” Juicy interacted well with the crowd and invited audience members to join him and his bottle of champagne onstage multiple times throughout the set, which included the essential “Bandz A Make Her Dance” and the delightful throwback to his Three 6 Mafia days, “Stay Fly.”
Headliners Deltron 3030 ended the night in a flourish of ear-melting, psychedelic hip-hop. The super group is made up of Dan the Automator, Del the Funky Homosapien (of Oakland’s Hieroglyphics crew) and Kid Koala. Their combination of lush cosmic beats, the sounds of an orchestra on acid and eerie raps took us on a futuristic rap odyssey of sorts, and the experience was nothing short of mesmerizing.