Powerhouse booking outfit The Agency Group held an eclectic showcase at the fledgling New York City venue Stage 48 on Saturday, January 12th. Offering myriad musical genres and aural pleasures The Agency Group highlighted five surprising yet delightful musical combinations. Despite, or because of, the drastic difference (well, mostly) there seemed to be an odd complementary cohesion between the five acts.
Opening the evening was the Spanish-guitar stylized set of the four-piece band Pavlo. Playing to a small crowd, who mostly lounged within the deeper recesses of the club’s interior, Pavlo wasted no energy in their fast-paced, energizing, set. While the dance floor itself remained barren the audience began to bulk up towards the bar area. While most admired the band from dark corners one brave soul was beckoned to the stage to dance alongside the band. Only she got to see up-close the impressive showmanship of an act almost otherwise collectively processed, unfortunately, as background music.
In a switch of musical gears hip-hop collective Doomtree contributor Dessa took to the stage. Garnering a modest but zealous crowd to the dance floor it seemed momentarily that Dessa was the night’s big draw. The female indie rapper rolled through her mere five-song set while the ravenous hung on her every word. Aware of her captivated audience Dessa urged the crowd to contemplate her lyrics if they could be heard over the abundance of reverb (The sound was actually rather sharp and seemingly well balanced).
Switching styles once again, this time to a bluesy-guitar and organ vibe, Robben Ford offered up a well-rounded mix to the night’s showcase. The audience peppered the floor this time around and split the difference in interest levels from the previous two acts. While nobody seemed to be present for this particular act the reception was fair. Receiving ample and well-deserved applause between each song the befuddlement of those who may have come for GZA had ebbed enough to appreciate the varied styles of the night.
Taking the night in a completely different direction yet again, the stage filled with the Victorian-era dressed Rasputina. Clad in corsets, and armed with their cellos, the co-headliner bowed out a beautifully melodious 40 minute set. Melora Creager, frontwoman and ultimate face of Rasputina, punctuated each song with trademark quips and her ironic musings, stating: “These are […] songs from the ‘90s. The 1590s.” Once Rasputina finished and curtseyed from the stage, the chants of “Wu-Tang” took up throughout the venue.
The night’s top billed musical act, the GZA from the Wu-Tang Clan, took the stage after a short musical introduction which featured an abridged and vocal-less version of The Sugarhill Gang’s “Apache (Jump On It)”. Cutting through the hits, GZA rapped his laidback verse over his biggest tracks. While often only rapping his own vocal contributions from countless Wu-Tang Clan collaborative tracks, GZA did pay homage to deceased rapper and family member, Old Dirty Bastard. Taking a moment between songs, GZA pointed out ODB’s family members within the crowd as well as his brother, who had the seat behind the drum kit. Afterward GZA elicited biggest crowd reactions from Wu-Tang tracks off of Enter the Wu-Tang (36-Chamber) and his solo record Liquid Swords.