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Paper Tiger

Rock 'n Rap Day Party At The Paper Tiger

photo by Elizabeth Aguilar

photo by Elizabeth Aguilar

 

San Antonio’s music sensei (and “hip-hop tastemaker”), Ghostpizza, threw a pretty cool day-show party with Antwon and Power Trip to finish off those who hadn’t already been knocked on their asses by Fiesta. Surprisingly, the Paper Tiger popped off on a Sunday afternoon as those who had managed to survive the week crawled their way to one last hurrah on the strip.

The place flooded with tightly huddled minors, shirtless and sweaty, as the genres of rock and rap were sweetly spun together like ice cream swirled and served to them. The day (which started at 1 p.m.) slowly escalated from head bobbing to hair flipping as rappers Izaq Roland and P2 Goldma$k, and rock bands Headlock and BloodHound took their turns trying to get the crowd to come out of their hangover-induced shells.

With the early afternoon sun illuminating his shiny mask, PMG artist P2 Goldma$k held the mic in one hand and demanded a mosh pit from the crowd, starting his set off in front of the stage rather than on it. After seeing what he referred to as a “Fisher Price mosh pit,” P2 decided to pull himself out of the kiddie crowd and finish his set back on stage. 

The Cali-based rapper, Antwon, did it right making this is first show in San Antonio. With a background in hardcore and a degree in lyrical scribing, Antwon seemed to fit right in with Sunday’s scene. With a warm, husky voice and dreamy RnB mix-ins, the San Jose rapper and his right-hand man, Sad Andy, had no problem getting everyone in the crowd to show some color (despite the fact that nearly everyone there was wearing black).

No sooner did Power Trip plug in their trio of electric guitars, some shirtless kid was running around the mini mosh pit (that had just formed) wearing a helmet. Others were tossing themselves back and forth from one side of the pit to the other like a game of Red Rover. Others were spinning their arms and kicking their legs, releasing pent-up emotions that rose up and intoxicated the rest of the standing crowd. By the time the band had finished, every face was drained of life and drenched with sweat.

It made perfect sense why the left Power Trip for last.  Note: I’ll admit I was a bit skeptical when seeing the lineup for the first time. Biggie’s reincarnate Antwon and Power Trip, the hardcore shedders? Local hip-hop experimentalist P2 Goldma$k and the vicious jugular vein-popping band BloodHound? I’ll admit I had never experienced a mix of genres quite like the one created that afternoon. What was really interesting was that as I listened to each performance, I realized that this lineup wasn’t just a random mix of metal bands and rappers. Rather the lineup had been strategically put together, brilliantly placing the interchangeable elements of each genre within each one other. I definitely want to see more San Antonio lineups and shows like this in the future. 

Shout out Ghostpizza.

Lee Fields and The Expressions Return To Paper Tiger

It’s that moment when you close your eyes, unaware of the world around you, the trappings of the 21st century concrete jungle fade away, and for that four and a half minutes you are tapped into another epoch through the sonic connection surrounding you.  

Such a moment occurred to men and women alike last spring when Lee Fields & The Expressions captured the stage at Paper Tiger, letting the horn section wail and cry and the Al Green guitar riff set the mood on his testament to the fairer sex, "Beautiful Ladies."  His shirt unbuttoned from the pure sexual tension in the air as he tenderly proffered his hand to the swooning women in the audience and sang,  “you can take a man and make him feel like king.” 

The man known as “Little J.B.” will continue his 45 years of life on the stage this Thursday, March 31st at Paper Tiger, with Kirk Thurmond and The Millennials opening at 9PM.  Dancing shoes and loose-satin shirts are suggested, but not required as you will sweat, and you will get sexy.  

Fields, at 65 years young, released his sound at a time when James Brown’s soul was on fire with the people, and the average listener could easily mistake Field’s with the King of Funk.  But according to his most recent press release for 2014’s Emma Jean “there is no mistaking a Lee Fields track…a distinct soulful sound has been forged between him and The Expressions.”  

Yet in the words of Fields himself, that’s not the only reason why Emma Jean is particularly his sound.  “My mission on Emma Jean was to record songs for my mother,” Fields said in a phone interview.  “I can put roses on her grave but it may not mean anything to her.  Music is closer to the dimension she is in now.” 

There is indeed a level of organic maturity, of quiet reflection in the movements of the album.  From haunting balladic breakdowns like "Paralyzed" or "Into the Woods," or the anthem to the resilient that starts off the album "Just Can’t Win", Fields keeps a consistency with his sound and expression that is uniquely heart. “This is a bouquet of songs, of melodies that perhaps she can feel,” Fields said.  “I’m repeating her name, I can feel her spirit close by.”

While talking with Fields, the power of his presence made him feel close by, though thousands of miles separated us.  It felt as if I was speaking with a simple and sagacious soul, no extraordinary ego or tales of the more bombastic and brazen side of show-business, just a real, authentic man.  “I’m a regular guy, and in everything I do I give God the glory,” Fields said. “God will work it all out.”

Fields claims he is not a political man, a man of faith, but still he hopes his music can act as a remedy for healing for those who share in musical evenings with him.  “Even in chaos, we can find order,” Fields said of current world affairs, invoking a greater reach to humanity at large. “It only makes us play more, sing harder to get to that place of serenity.”

A feeling that Fields is after on the stage, and one that you have to work hard not to feel in his presence, is euphoria.  “The moment of euphoria to me is when there is nothing but good feelings, feeling totally at peace and nothing can detract from that,” Fields said.  “There is nothing a person can eat, drink, or take that can make them feel that way-euphoria is indescribable.”

Even when that pure state doesn’t arrive, Fields is grateful for the journey, especially alongside the Expressions.  “I waited 40 years for this band, and when I got with them, I knew it was the band,” Fields said.  “Every person on that stage is just as important as the next guy.”

Having witnessed The Expressions alongside Fields, it is easy to understand what he’s talking about.  There is a fundamental honesty to the expression and tightness in the band that clearly comes from the maxims and work ethic of Fields.  “When people become one, they can accomplish whatever they want to,” Fields said.  “Peace and tranquility is about becoming one, it occurs when we operate as one.”

Fields has certainly taken his soul train to enough places in the world to understand the nature of our interconnectedness.  The past year has taken him to Europe, South America, and all over the U S of A.  “The planet is a ship, and we’re all on it together,” Fields said.  “We’re just sailing together through the cosmos.” 

Fields is far from starry-eyed or sublime in his declarations, but rather quite grounded in the power of love from his experiences with music.  “Any place where people give love, is a place I’m happy to be,” Fields said. “I’m excited to be back in SA, had a lot of fun and people were very love-giving.”

Out and about watching a taping of the tonight show. So much love goes out to Dave Guy, @questlove , #captainkirkdouglas, and the whole roots crew. What a great band!!!!

Posted by Lee Fields & The Expressions on Thursday, October 29, 2015

Atmosphere Returns to San Antonio: SELLS OUT Paper Tiger

All photographs by Ricardo Romero

All photographs by Ricardo Romero

By: Maxwell Woodward

After 13 years, Atmosphere finally came back to San Antonio filling the house at the Paper Tiger on a picture perfect evening and threw a freakin’ awesome hip hop party for an overjoyed crowd of madly dedicated heads. 

DJs Plane Ole Bill and Last Word, of “Get Cryphy," set the vibe of the ensuing party with a back and forth that spanned the hip hop spectrum. Representing half of the self-proclaimed "most rowdy get stupid go dumb rapp dance party/DJ Crew in the Twin Cities;” these guys did not disappoint. (Wax DJs for the win!)

Enter rapper Jordan Wallingford, AKA “Haphduzn,” backed by the beats of Dimitry Killstorm (Dimitry Bernstein). A relative newbie to the artist owned Rhymesayers label, this rapper kicked ass and drew in the crowd participation with a clever recount of rap history and the nature of cyclical trends in his track “Brand New Nostalgia.”

The journey continued with a hard hitting, thought provoking set by hip hop artist, speaker, and activist Brother Ali. Ali’s lyrics cut to the hearts of the captivated mob with an intensely personal delivery of his outspoken stances “… on the political, socioeconomic, and cultural suffering in modern American life.” Dude was the keynote speaker at the Nobel Peace Prize Forum this year.

When Atmosphere walked on stage after an extended intermission, the crowd exploded with a seemingly endless ovation that charged on through the rest of the night. “Slug” (Sean Daley) was visibly taken aback as the persistent roars required hushing after literally every song. Also founder of the Minnesota hip hop powerhouse known as the Rhymesayers Entertainment collective, Slug has paid his dues. His rhymes reflect a self-aware style and his track record is testament to his blue collar mentality and dedication to his craft. During their classic track, “The Woman with the Tattooed Hands,” producer and beat master Ant (Anthony Davis) literally stopped the record after the tattoos came alive, allowing the crowd to finish acappella the climax verse we took over.

This duo most definitely pleased the hungry San Antonio mass. An encore brought the whole gang back out for a couple more hits and a rap battle that closed with some skillful lines by Slug about ‘real recognizing real’ in San Antonio and throwing ‘em up like the mother fucking rodeo.