The sold-out Greet the Mind show at Fortune Sound Club on September 14 could best be described by the lyrics of opening act, Elekwent Folk. “Feel the energy,” the Vancouver-based hip hop group tell the crowd while performing their hook-filled track “Embers.” Both performers and audience alike felt said energy, as the positive vibes in the venue were palpable.
What was the cause behind all this positive energy? Maybe it was the proportion of all ticket sales went to Pacific Wild, a non-profit organization working to protect coastal habitat and wildlife in British Columbia. Or maybe it was because of the organizers, the UBC surf club, that there were so many audience members there to show their support. Or maybe it was just the always impressive sound system that Fortune has to offer, providing crisp beats and easily discernible instrument and vocal track quality. Every one of these factors could have heightened the mood, but when combined with the flowing music and captivating stage presence of the performers, the deal was easily sealed.
A-Ro, AstroLogical, and Slippery Elm of Elekwent Folk kicked off the evening with their smooth, lyrical hip hop. It was the group’s first performance of the year, but it didn’t show. Melodic, meditative beats set the background for conscious lyrics and the tight interplay between the two emcees.
Looking around the audience, I noticed that some people were genuinely surprised and excited about how good a local hip hop group could sound. Though hip hop music has a relatively long history and deep roots in Vancouver, it was refreshing to see people making the realization that local groups are still creating great hip hop music.
Headliners Greet the Mind followed suit with a set of contemplative, yet groove-oriented downtempo/trip hop beats. This was the fourth show for beatmaker/guitarist Mike Jensen and beatmaker/violinist Igor Puzanov. Starting the set off acoustically with the Animals classic “The House of the Rising Sun,” they already had the audience singing along at the top of their lungs.
They followed up with original songs, which are a mix of live instrumentation and electronic beats/samples. Songs featuring smooth atmospheric guitar lines, haunting violin melodies and textures, both over expansive atmosphere and crisp hard-hitting drum sounds. A highlight of the set was “Joni Watts,” featuring a quote from the Western Zen philosopher Alan Watts reminding us “What you do is something the whole universe is doing, at the place we call here and now.”
The duo ended the night with a supremely funky and danceable remix of the Dale Hawkins’ song “Suzie Q,” with the crowd acting as a pulsating ball of dancing energy until the set ended to thunderous applause.