The Homecoming concert at the Lake Matoaka amphitheater provided, if nothing else, a fascinating study in contrasts. The performers included an Israeli one-man acoustic act (opener Yoav), a Chicago-bred, new old school hip-hop act (The Cool Kids), and a British indie-dance-rock act (headliner The Ting Tings).
But the concert provided much more. Yoav’s haunting acoustic-ambiance was strangely thought provoking;
The Cool Kids were everything a hip-hop show should be; The Ting Tings were part ’80s-revival, part indie-rock dance party.
The weather was a bit disagreeable. A steady rain hung over the campus for a couple of hours prior to the show, seriously hindering student turnout. However, attendance was stronger than some UCAB staff expected.
“This is a lot more people than I thought would show up at this time,” UCAB member Kyle Wager ’10 said at around 7:15 p.m., 45 minutes before the opening act. The rain and humidity cleared up in time for Yoav’s set. All that was left to look forward to was the music.
It was a one-man show, but it sure as hell didn’t sound like one. Without knowing, it would be easy to assume at least two or three guys were onstage. But, there was just one. Yoav’s mad finger-picking skills, percussive acoustic guitar and on-stage sampling made for a full three-piece sound.
Although I’m pretty sure he had some help here and there. One song featured extensive sampling — all of a sudden it was a dance party, pleasantly reminiscent of a Nine Inch Nails show. Though the song opened with only a few well-placed chords and Yoav’s eerie upper register, he showed little trouble diving head-first into a full-fledged, disco-tech groove.
It may not have been as upbeat as what the audience expected, especially after a trip through the rain. But Yoav’s set was enjoyable, and far better than I had anticipated from an opening act for two relatively minor bands.
**The Cool Kids**
“Check, check, check, William and Mary College, if y’all ready for The Cool Kids make some noise,” the DJ said as he settled in at the back of the stage, setting the tone for something completely different.
Mikey Rocks and Chuck Inglish took the stage, jumping right into “Delivery Man,” one of their strongest tracks. It was immediately clear why The Cool Kids had developed a national reputation before the release of their first album. Lyrics like “Don’t box me / I’m Sugar Ray Leonard to them boxers / Watch me not watch them / I’m like clockwork” displayed nothing but masterful word play and pure cool, flowing with ease over the duo’s laid-back, bass-blasting production.
The crowd was a little rambunctious — the stink of booze wafted through the air on more than one occasion — but the duo seemed to enjoy it. After the third song, Rocks took a moment to apologize for his outfit.
“I look like I just came from the gym, from boxing practice,” he said, describing his modest attire: a black sweatshirt and sweat pants over T-shirt. “You all mad at me for wearing my sweat suit?”
The crowd shouted in disagreement, before Inglish chimed in.
“You’re original, man,” he said. “We got a national anthem for people like you, and it goes like this.” Then the duo broke into “A Lil’ Bit Cooler,” a jazzy, cymbal-heavy song featuring such fly lyrics as “Flipping channels, I’m a rebel eating a bowl / Of them fruity pebbles, fruity pebbles, fruity pebbles.”
Other highlights included Rocks accepting a Viking helmet from a student amidst drunken shouts of “Flava Flav” and “Vikings.” Inglish, at one point, began giving out air high-fives to the crowd. And props to the crowd for actually managing to hoist up at least one crowd-surfer.
The Cool Kids never failed to groove; Inglish and Rocks never failed to work the crowd. The bass was screaming throughout, and the beats were never less than dance worthy.
**The Ting Tings**
For The Ting Tings, the drunken grinding made a smooth transition into goofy-ass skanking. I’m not sure if the audience had changed since The Cool Kids’ performance, but the atmosphere certainly did. More people continued to show up by the time the duo took the stage, making for a sizable crowd.
Though they took a little time getting their groove into full gear, it’s safe to say that the more obnoxious qualities of The Ting Tings translate nicely to a live setting, where the mind-numbing repetition and Katie White’s snappy, Brit-punk vocals can get a crowd moving.
One of their more popular tunes, the jaunty, piano-heavy “We Walk” was first out of the gate. The Ting Tings then shot right into another fan favorite, “Great DJ,” without skipping a beat. The catchy chorus, “Imagine all the girls / Ah ah ahh, ahh, ah ahh, ahh” melted nicely into White’s hypnotizing verse, “the drums, the drums, the drums,” setting a fierce pace for the rest of the show.
Spot-on for the most part, the duo rarely took time to banter with the audience as The Cool Kids had, though White’s rock-star antics at the mic proved an easy crowd-pleaser. Her use of the cow bell during a number of songs offered sentimental as well as musical value.
Drummer/guitarist Jules De Martino paid considerable attention to the crowd before the duo broke into the encore, putting on a yellow College of William and Mary T-shirt while off-stage.
“For our friends in the UK,” he said as he held out a flip video camera to the crowd. “Oh, UK. Oh, Williamsburg.”
The crowd grooved to the encore performance of their hit, “That’s Not My Name,” in what was probably the highlight of all three sets — a smooth, catchy closer to an evening of eclectic sounds.