Archive for Saturday, February 3, 2007

REVIEW: DBR’s mix of classical and hip-hop not for everybody

Some audience members left at intermission.

February 3, 2007


"This is not your mama's classical music," Daniel Bernard Roumain said after a couple songs Friday night.

Indeed - but it's not exactly your mama's hip-hop, rock, jazz, blues or folk either.

Roumain - who goes by the stage name DBR - brought his own style of music to the Lied Center with his band, the Mission SQ Unit, and DJ Scientific.

The show can best be described as an experience, rather than a concert. Where else can you see violins with wah-wah pedals, or beat-boxing accompany a viola solo?

Indeed, as Roumain's comment may have alluded to, the music isn't for everyone. Some audience members left at intermission.

This wasn't exactly your typical Lied Series performance, and, frankly, the show probably have worked better at Liberty Hall, the Granada or the Bottleneck, catering to a younger crowd. Lower-than-usual attendance might have reflected that disconnect.

But - even though some left - there seems to be something universal about DBR's music. At the heart of most pieces is a funky beat that gets your toe tapping, if not your entire body dancing (which some felt moved to do at the show). And many of the pieces lay a gorgeous melody, often sounding something like a folk tune echoing among instruments, over that beat.

Granted, within the two-hour concert, some tunes were more easily listened to than others.

The bulk of the concert was "A Civil Rights Reader," a four-part work that pays homage to civil rights leaders Malcolm X, Martin Luther King Jr., Adam Clayton Powell Jr. and Maya Angelou. While the program notes helped to explain the meaning behind the movements, the connections to the leaders is far from literal. That left the audience to use the often-repetitive strains to reflect on the leaders' lives, if they chose. Unfortunately, the fact the movements were played intermittently throughout the concert didn't help audience members decipher the true meaning behind them.

DBR and the Mission, as a crowd-pleasing band, seems to work best when they're playing a somewhat-melodious tune over the well-established beat by DJ Scientific. The Martin Luther King movement of the "Civil Rights Reader" reflected that, complete with soulful lyrics sung by Roumain.

Of course, those more conventional moments of DBR's music lead to a sound that fits in a genre, or a least a musical equation we're used to hearing.

But DBR isn't about that. He wants to challenge you.

At the least, audience members feel outside their musical comfort level. At most, they expand their horizons - if they're truly willing to give the music a chance.


shirinisb 11 years, 2 months ago

It is actually listed under "latest stories"

Smarmy_Schoolmarm 11 years, 2 months ago

It's a review....that's why it says review at the top.

I was there last night and I think the biggest problem was that the venue doesn't lend itself to this sort of music. There is no room to dance, especially in the balconies, which is where all the students were.

Switching between more classical music and hip hop made it a bit difficult too. I think it would have been better if they'd performed "The Civil Rights Reader", (which was brilliant by the way, especially the Maya Angelou movements) and then gone into the more hip hop/experimental/dance stuff.

Liberty Hall would have been a better venue. It would have been advertised differently and brought in a larger, more musically diverse audience.

DBR, Mission SQ Unit, and DJ Scientific are all amazing musicians and deserve better than Lawrence gave them last night.

Hopefully they'll come back some day and people will see what they missed out on.

Kookamooka 11 years, 2 months ago

My question is...if the Lied Center programed this artist, they should have known better how to promote the show and made adjustments so they audience could feel really comfortable feeling the music? They have a dance studio behind the stage that might have been an even better venue!! What were they thinking?

Also...if a person pays 20-50.00 for a ticket to see a live performer couldn't the Lied Center budget for beverages and treats at intermission, for additional charge, of course. In Missouri you can go to the bar at intermission and get a glass of wine and chocolate.

The experience of hearing a classical performance needs to be an experience. Right now, seeing a show at the Lied center is more like going to church.

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