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By Alexandra “Xandra” Fileccia
The Lilypad, Saturday April 29
Local Rapper Tashawn Taylor is the perfect hype-man to kick off All Together Now’s fourth installation. With his brown overalls–one strap hanging off to the side–and thick-framed glasses, Taylor emanates some serious retro, hiphop vibes. “We want to make the people outside jealous that they’re not having a good time with us right now,” Taylor says to the audience. “Repeat after me,” he continues. “I ain’t no joke!”
I ain’t no joke!
All Together Now Curator Anna Rae first discovered Taylor at a Black Lives Matter rally. As soon as she heard him perform, she knew she had to incorporate him into her next collaborative piece. He starts off his set with “Grown Man” and follows that with “Raindrops.” In this song, Taylor repeats a short, solemn chorus, countering the animated style of his verses.
For his third song “Specifics,” he decides to perform it in spoken word, sans music. His words set a steady rhythm as he discusses tough relationships, dealing with anxiety and his experience as a person of color.
“It’s good when you can actually use music and rapping as an outlet to discuss your problems in real life,” Taylor says. “People just say, ‘Oh my god, that was awesome. Sh*t!’ [but] it wasn’t awesome going through it.” Taylor ends with “Obnoxious,” his first video single and the poppiest of his songs. He bounces so hard to the beat, his overall strap flies off, yet he finishes the song without missing a word.
Beatboxer Gene Shinozaki enters the stage with deep bass rumbles. It’s a little unclear at first, but the sounds are coming from his mouth. Audience members audibly gasp in astoundment as they realize he’s started his beatboxing set. He makes a quick introduction then starts his next song. It builds up to a drop as he inserts spoken phrases as if he were mixing on a turntable. It lands in a dirty dubstep beat. If you closed your eyes, you could be standing in the middle of a club listening to a dj’s set, not the cozy Lilypad in Cambridge’s Inman Square.
For his next song he brings out a loop station. He explains the recording equipment to the audience and then jokingly records the word “record” as an example, only it loops back sounding more like “porn.” Audience members giggle and clap along. Shinozaki mixes it a bit before deleting it and starts his next song. “It’s 2017 so anything is possible,” Shinozaki says talking about his music.
Shinozaki started out as a drummer, and dropped out of Berklee College. He currently lives in NYC at what’s known as the “Beatbox House,” (his shared apartment with other beatboxer friends where they host parties/shows). “You don’t understand,” he says protesting a distracted crowd, “we all ended up in a house together. I’ll let that sink in.”
He jumps into “Level Five,” which captivates the room’s attention once more. Each level, which he announces throughout the song, adds more percussion and/or lyrics until he reaches the final level: seven.
“I need a nap,” an audience member shouts after the song ends. Shinozaki replies, “Me too,” mentioning that he only just arrived in Boston from a five-hour bus ride. He ends the night with an original title “Jigsaw,” and then an encore.
DiDi Delgado–poet, activist and national/local BLM organizer–graces the stage as the third act in All Together Now. Delgado announces a trigger warning for her in-your-face material. Her poems are about personal experiences as a queer, black woman, current events, misogyny, racism, “and all that good sh*t!” she says. “But it’s going to be entertaining; we’re all going to laugh about it afterwards.”
Her first poem centers around the Orlando Pulse Nightclub shooting, which happened just about a year ago. The poem outlines frustrations with the ways many white people mourned the brown bodies killed that night. “Come here / let me examine your queer, ” she says delivering her first line. Her stanzas beg listeners to check in with queer POC.
During her next poem, Delgado lightens the mood. This piece uses sexual imagery to tell her truths and experiences in relationships. She has the audience chanting with her, “You really miss this pussy don’t you!”
She later reveals a new poem that she added to during April’s National Poetry Month. The prompt was, “Say something to someone that has never been said before.” Delgado wrote this piece while she was pregnant with her daughter. It’s an apology letter to her unborn child and the father. It’s raw nature leaves the audience silent aside from the few moans of empathy and snaps.
Last to the stage was Boston-based Indie Rock Band First Frost. The four-piece ensemble leads with Lauren Koppelman on vocals and guitar; Morgan Browne on keys, synth, guitar, and vocals; Michael Kish on bass, synth, and vocals; and Chris Mendoza on drums. Their sound pulls from elements of experimental rock and shoegaze.
Koppelman’s voice swoons and sways, similar to Fiona Apple or Regina Spektor, bending their genre even more. The band melds together like a satisfying jam-sesh, despite incorporating different musical influences. First Frost carried the night to a mellow finish.
The next All Together Now will be hosted on Saturday, May 27 at The Lilypad. Tickets are $10, and it’s open to all ages. This next one will feature a new genre, conceptual magic, in addition to performance art, video and music.
THE GIST: All Together Now 4 showcased four talented, diverse acts ranging in genre as one, cohesive experience. If you’re looking to discover new talent that aims to change the narrative, then get your butt down to All Together Now #5.