by Ryan Johnson
On Thursday, January 28, I attended Live Music Fest at Intermedia Arts in Uptown. Even approaching the event, I could tell it was going to be a good time; the building has murals and pieces of art done in spray paint covering the majority of the exterior, leading you into a just as creative space inside. This bi-monthly event features three local musicians in the rad space of Intermedia. Unlike their typical structure, this Thursday happened to feature four acts instead of their usual three–more music, always a bonus. The musicians performing varied in style that night, providing a well-rounded and unique show.
First up was Gabby Z, a singer/songwriter in her senior year of high school, who entered with her guitar, gathered an amp, and just started up. Gabby has a rich voice with flawless control that pairs perfectly with her jazzy sound. She opened her set with a cover of “Doo Wop (That Thing)”, originally performed by Lauryn Hill, featuring her strong ability to put her own spin on others’ work. Going between originals and covers, she presented a variety of styles but mostly focused on folk-blues and blue-eyed soul. In these blues pieces she utilized her lower range with breathtaking belts of strong vocal power and countering her robust pieces by highlighting her upper range with a softer and breathy tonality. Her set left the audience impressed with her sound and wanting more, which luckily for us, is available on SoundCloud. (Her “Feel Good” cover is highly recommended.)
The second act was a duo who doubled up on guitar and vocals, Julia & Nina. Their harmonies interacted perfectly, one focusing on soprano while the other kept in her alto range. I would describe their sound as a mix of indie folk & indie pop, echoing that of Zooey Deschanel & M. Ward’s She & Him, of course in a more She & Her manner. Their act was really enjoyable. I could really see they were enjoying what they were doing, giggling when an unexpected sound came or just beaming as they talked about the pieces they were playing. This duo’s playful energy matched their sound very well, keeping their set upbeat and lighthearted.
The third act was a collaboration between two separate artists, Ashley Mari along with Matt Jarvi of MNtality. Mari is a self described poet/rapper/singer while Jarvi is more on the rapping end of things, and focused on instruments and beats. Their act was very unique, having a different structure than any other show I’ve attended. They started with a “skit” I suppose is the best way to put it, gradually flowing from that to poetry continuing onto rap. Their sound can be related to the Mod Sun coined term “Hippie Rap,” which was best featured in their song “Mood,” speaking of human connection and a higher perspective. Mari also presented some poetry on her own without any musical accompaniment. They utilized props throughout their set, belly dancing scarves specifically, and also had some smaller instruments, a maraca & xylophone to accompany their electronic tracks. After their show I decided to try to find their work online. I discovered with investigation on their respective Soundclouds that their collaboration has occurred relatively recently, leading to the conclusion that their pairing is still in the works. This show was their first together from what I can find, and while they are still figuring out the flow of working together, their set was quite entertaining.
Last Import closed out the night with a bang. This local group features a trio of guitar, bass and drums, a typical set up, but a really good set. They’re very developed as a group–settled in their sound and really comfortable on stage. Their sound is quite indie rock, reminding me of a mashup between Bad Bad Hats and Paramore, with less males and younger talent. I’m really looking forward to getting more of their sound, which fortunately can be found on Bandcamp. Last Import asked the audience to come down from our seats to get closer to the music, having a more condensed energy is always fun and a great way to end the night. The audience got really into it, lots of cheers after every song accompanied with an abundance of head bobbing throughout the set.
After the show, the musicians all stuck around for a bit, chatted with audience members as well as each other, and just ended the night on a nice low-key note. Live Music Fest seems to be a great way to discover a few new local artists as well as honestly just having a really great time, and who knows, maybe you’ll find a few new favorite artists to follow.
Every other month Intermedia Arts hosts their Live Music Fest, featuring young musicians from the metropolitan area. Each event features three bands or musicians, is a three hour show, and frugally has a $3 cover. This event is open to any genre of music and any young musician, middle school through college. Intermedia is a super rad venue, featuring a large stage and plenty of sitting space for the audience.