Trouble In The Streets At One2One Bar

//Trouble In The Streets At One2One Bar

Trouble In The Streets At One2One Bar

There is no argument that on any given night in Austin, you have a wide selection of music to pick from. On Lamar alone there are dozens of fantastic spots to see local, live bands. But on December 1st, no club or venue had a show quite like the One-2-One was putting on with Austin Music Live. The night got off to a lively start with the Josh Pearson Trio giving us a rambling, jam-infused first set. Pearson is probably best known for starting the Phish tribute band A Live One. Tonight though the Trio rocked through some original material to warm up the crowd for what was to come.

Formed in 2014, Trouble in The Streets, or TiTS, has been making a splash on the Austin scene. In 2016 they released the relentlessly rhythmic EP Electro Tribe. Later, TiTS won Best New Austin Band in The Chronicle’s 2017 – 2018 Austin Music Awards. They’ve shared the stage with artists like George Clinton and Beto Martinez of Grupo Fantasma; it’s no wonder there is buzz about the band. But hearing the hype is one thing, and actually witnessing the spectacle is another, as any hardcore TiTS fan can tell you.

Once they took the stage, Trouble in The Streets had the room under their spell. Bobby Snakes dominated the drums, Andy Leonard took the synth and bass, and Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji had the crowd in the palm of her hand. Agbaroji rocked the keyboard and the mic throughout the set, as well as the center of the stage. Her movements seemed half choreographed dance and half slam poet gesticulations. Initially, she started by wishing the crowd a good evening and thanking them for coming out. “You coulda been anywhere in the world,” Agbaroji states, “but here you are.” Indeed we were. And Trouble was with us.

Agbaroji is a vocal chameleon, traversing easily through soul-tinged hooks backed by funky synth and a driving rhythmic drums. On a dime she switches to rapping, to spoken word, and back to that soulful hook. As much as TiTS lives in their endlessly rich world of electronic-funk, they’re clothed in a mix of hip-hop elements. Their performance was a party, yes, but it was not decadent or hedonistic. You can’t listen to this group and not hear echoes of Rage Against the Machine, or even earlier protest rock-rap tracks. Although sonically it’s wrapped in a different package, Agbaroji’s flow sometimes took me back to the old school, east coast scene. I couldn’t help but think of Run-DMC or Melle Mel on “The Message.”

But again, that’s only a facet, one angle of TiTS. Both Agbaroji’s lyricism and delivery carry a contemporary, radical element as well. Motifs of identity, self-confidence, and growth seem to run through Agbaroji’s words. These verses carry a self-awareness with them, but instead of leaning toward the post-modern and ironic, there is a sincerity here. At the same time TiTS is partying on stage, providing the crowd with heavy, electonic-funk rhapsodies, Agbaroji is preaching acceptance and self-love. The idea that in today’s world we need to purchase something to be complete, or fill some sort of societal role to be accepted seemed vigorously rejected in this show.

“Are you having a good night? Are you checked in with yourself right now? Are you breathing?” Agbaroji asks the crowd. There is an urge to live in the moment and eschew others’ expectations for who you or what you’re supposed to be. She goes on: “…Babydoll, you are a star; you were brought here to revolve around your own destiny.” Individuals were asked to hold on and, as stars,  make a wish on themselves. The idea is profoundly inspiring in the moment. The notion escapes the maudlin because of the genre-bending music it’s soaked in and fueled by. There is no complacency here either though; “when evil becomes the tradition,” Agbaroji asks, “who will save us?” Is this a party or a protest? Maybe both.

After Trouble in The Streets finished up, The Matters took the stage and handed listeners a hard and loud classic-rock inspired set. But I couldn’t stop thinking about TiTS. Bobby Snakes urgently pounding out time, Andy Leonard driving the bass, and Nnedi Nebula Agbaroji asking us if we were alive, if we’re breathing. It was past midnight, but I wasn’t tired. The Austin night was only slightly chilly, welcoming even. As I walked to my car I looked at the sky and sucked in cold air. There was a bit of bliss left in me from the show, and with it a whiff of possibility, of inspiration. And there I was… alive and breathing.

 

Photos by Craig McGreggor.
By |2018-12-03T16:57:33+00:00December 3rd, 2018|Reviews|0 Comments

About the Author:

Shane Gannaway is a writer and actor who lives in Austin, TX. You can spot him in the wild at a show, coffee shop, or dive bar. He also plays a fair amount of video games. Contact him at shanegannaway@gmail.com or, if you're especially bored, check out his twitter @shanegannaway or his website, Here Are Things You Can Read.

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