So I’ve been at Festival for a few evenings already. There are SO many bands this year. And the one that’s stuck out to me most so far is Super Duty Tough Work.
So I don’t often see rap, R&B, hip hop, lyricism, etc. music. You’ve probably noticed I stick with the rock and roll, alternative, hipster stuff. It’s okay, in my time I’ve heard some other stuff, and I got a bit of an ear by now…
Regardless, Super Duty Tough Work blew me away. They really changed up my experience at Festival, and gave a really refreshing performance of music I really enjoyed but don’t often get to experience. I wish I knew the vocalist’s name.
They mixed hard-hitting lyricism and I guess rap? (sorry these are not my fluent genres!) with incredible jazzy instrumentals and a bit of an experimental structure. Songs ranged from having that set structure that qualifies a song as a song, to having a typical jazz structure of solo by solo. The group took up the majority of the stage in the tent that night, covering a sizable flat platform with performance and some really nice horn work.
They had a trombone, this sax, and one other horn instrument on stage, plus a bassist, keys, drummer and vocalist.
The vocals were pure fire. I mean, this guy obviously knew what he was doing. I had heard about the Dilla Day show a couple weeks ago, and based on the rave reviews I saw from that, I wanted to expect a good show. I got way more than I expected.
The vocalist had great rhythm and did that super neat thing where he uses words like an instrument, creating dynamic punctuality and a feeling of story throughout the song. Some of the lyrics were really powerful, too. I will not be able to shake the feeling of shouting “fuck the police” in a merry crowd of festival goers. He got on some serious topics, spoke some real shit, and had some fun. He also had a practice of getting the audience engaged a lot, which was really remarkable. People got right into it. I remember “Can I kick it?” and the audience responds. They fuckin’ loved it.
This type of rap, mind you, sung by a guy wearing a “decolonize” sweater (mad props dude), I didn’t expect to see paired with classic jazz musicianship. but it was. and the music nerd that I am through and through rejoiced in many ways. Like holy shit. Hearing a smooth sax solo, watching the bassist carry a strong melody for minutes, reminded me of why I always loved going to my brother’s jazz concerts in high school. But this was way better, because it kept that feeling of a newer groove, something hip and cool, not what your 50-some year old band teacher assigns you.
The drummer really fuckin blew me away. I had met him earlier that day, at a recording studio. I lent him my grinder. When he solo’d, I basically instantly turned fangirl, turning to my friend to say I’d already met him. He’s got a ton of control on the drums and in terms of speed and dynamics. He can fall comfortably into what to me would feel like awkward rhythms, and he’s got those changes down between each groove.
I’ve been to about two shows every week for the past 5 months and haven’t seen a performance structured like this in there… okay, maybe once. Maybe Odd Outfit. But not even. Super Duty Tough Work performing with this line up took turns. On solos. I haven’t heard a drum solo as long or moving as this since I listened to like, not local music I guess! I mean it’s probably to do with the genres, but damn I missed hearing individual musicians get an opportunity to rip it up. And the vocalist was very supportive. I feel like it’s good musicianship sort of like good sportsmanship, you know?
So I’ll definitely be seeing these guys again. And maybe seeing if they have a different line up then?