After months of being away from Mind Spray at Wonder Bar in Allston, it was time to check out what was doing because of a great featured line up of last month's winner Relentless, Cody Pope, and Smoove Gang. The night was hosted by Mr. PSA and DJ Slipwax held down the music. The event certainly had a Wreck Shop vibe to it.
The open mic segment kicked off at 8:30 (advertised as 7pm but it is a hip-hop show) with Slipwax spinning random beats. Emcees Just For Kicks, Nalla, and Mr. PSA trade mics to start off. Soon, the one guy who was really out of it got up on the mic and spit straight gibberish. We get treated to Mertz, James EPB, OV, and back to those who started things off. So far, so good. After the Open Mic, Mr. PSA praises Slipwax (which was done continuously throughout the night) and Wonder Bar. Sparse crowd at the opening of the competition segment of the show.
Ygor Sunny starts off and he still sounds like he had too much to drink or smoke or both. Clearly, just having fun as the rest of us had to watch. I'm sure he is a much better performer but, you know, nerves. Tony Vincent steps up to the mic next. Tony started out well but started tripping over his own words. He got himself back on track with some good lines but started losing his breathe and stammering his words again. He did end up finishing well.
Previous winner, William Wallace, came up next. He decided to try to warm up the small crowd before getting into his track. Wallace had a good sound and stage presence throughout his set. All the time he puts in at Wreck Shop's "Underground at Opus' certain helps him over the first two competitors. Congruence came up next and interesting rapped about imaginary friends with a decent flow yet a mediocre stage presence as he pretty much stood like a rooted oak tree. Next, King Kush came on the mic after a few bars from Mr. PSA and an alien/demon/wasnotreallypayingattention joke. King Kush spits a weed song (shock) while pretty much walking in circles on stage while occasionally looking up. His friend Ace of Blaze came on to perform (you guessed it) a weed track. He decided to rap over his own lyrics. His lip syncing was way off. Mr. PSA made fun of how high Ace was.
As Mr. PSA was talking, we got a few more people coming in and just in time to see another former winner, James EPB, take the mic. His stage ability is certainly more polished than the previous two and he is another regular at Opus on Wednesdays. His beat and flow really got the people into his performance. Ansy509 and his unannounced friend came up to perform next. He was another performer who rapped over his own lyrics and really didn't do anything to hide it. Ansy and his friend were pretty much antsy as they pretty much dance on stage. Mr. PSA took advantage of their accidental mic drop to make fun of them. Mr. PSA did another freestyle before bringing up the final six competitors. Nalla announced that he was going to perform a track dedicated to his friend who passed three years ago however, due to technical issue of playing the instrumental off his phone, he had to wait.
Brandie Blaze rocked the mic next after a huge push by Mr. PSA to get the onlookers ready. Brandie demonstrated great flow and lyrics. She had a wonderful stage presence by looking around the room and making eye contact with the audience and gestures to illustrate her story telling. Pop Quiz gets called up but he has technical difficulties as well. However Pop Quiz got his instrumental figured out before Nalla. Pop Quiz starts reading his lyrics off of his phone like he was at the studio. The way he "performed", you could envision him in the booth at Glass House studio. After his second reading mistake, he gave up. Just For Kicks came up to the stage next. He starts off by calling people up to the front of the stage (that's right, the 11th artist to come to the stage FINALLY asked people to fill in the huge floor space) and giving out Sour Patch Kids. He flowed over what sounded to be Total's "Can't You See So So Def remix (speed up and modified) and moved all over the stage and displayed great flow with his song about Sour Patch Kids. Nalla came back to the stage with his phone almost working right. A few more tweets and he delivered a solid performance that we were all waiting (or hoping) for. Civil Justus is the next performer and he turned in a strong performance as well with a great control and attempts to get the small audience in on his chorus. The last artist, OV, comes to the stage and his flow was all over the place. He just walked all over the stage and out to the bar. Not sure if he can hear himself but his bars were as empty as Wonder Bar tonight. When his instrumental was over, he tried to continue to flow but tripped over his own words.
Finalist for the night were Civil Justus, Just For Kicks, and Nalla. Each artist performed another track. Just for Kicks went first with a trap track and he really connects with the crowd for a second time. Nalla comes up second and turns in another strong performance with a little reaction from the audience. Civil Justus turns in the final performance with similar enthusiasm as Nalla. Based on crowd response, Just For Kicks wins the competition and will come back next month as a featured performer.
Time for the 3rd period of the show, the featured performances. Cody Pope is the first artist up and he just traveled from performing in Ohio the night before. Cody launches into "Hunger" from his upcoming album. Cody connects with the crowd easily and displays great stage presence. Cody paused to praise Mind Spray for the environment that is provides and then continues to wrap up his set. Next up, last month's Mind Spray winner Relentless takes the stage. After a slight delay, Relentless shows off some new music and demonstrates why he is a three time winner. Relentless gets into some soulful tracks. After a brief interlude, Relentless continues with another track from his upcoming album and then a boom bap track sensing the crowd was getting bored. For his last track, he performs his song that features his sister on the hook. Last performers, Smoove Gang, take to the stage. They bring a change of pace to bring the few people left to life. Smoove Gang started out decent but had little audience to feed off of. They rapped, they danced, they tried. They brought up another pair of rappers to perform their own track. Mics got traded back and Smoove Gang actually sounded a little tired themselves. They slowed it own towards the end and with another trade off of the mics, the night came to a close.
Like all open mics, you can expect the good and the bad. Tonight, we seem to have gotten the extreme of both. One thing for sure, Mind Spray does not attract the same enthusiastic crowd that was been witnessed in the past. Maybe it is because the show ran until 12:30 am or just the crowd size. The featured performances were good. Mr. PSA kept things moving the best he could. Hopefully with Spring on its way, the room will be full of people looking for some great music.
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