Marc Cabrera has nothing better to do than watch a lot of movies and television, and listen to a lot of music. Luckily, he has a job that pays him to blog about local and national arts, entertainment and pop culture. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Invariably, a search for local music of the urban persuasion will lead a writer to something like "Reggaeton Night" at a dive bar in, of all places, Gilroy (Gilas to the homies).
So, there I was, on a Thursday night, holding a Dos XX in one hand, a note pad in the other, waiting for Seaside crew 'Tha Undahoggs' to do their thing. Did I mention it was a Thursday night in downtown Gilas, which meant that hardly anybody bothered to show up?
Still, I did manage to make some interesting observations:
- The DJ's played every popular Reggaeton song you've ever heard on the radio (which amounted to about 8 songs; 9 tops). Daddy Yankee's "Gasolina" was played because there's some sort of international law that requires it to be on every reggaeton club play list. Oh, and that ubiquitous Shakira song got some burn also. Made me think about her abs the rest of the night.
- One of the bar tenders went into the sparse crowd with a leather shoulder holster that held a bottle of Cazadores Tequila. In place of bullets were shot glasses. And just like that, I knew exactly what I wanted for Christmas (the holster, not the girl).
- I'm so glad I don't have to go schlucking for phone numbers anymore (say word if you're in a committed relationship like me). I saw one guy try to get a girl's attention by tapping his drink with hers in a mach 'cheers' greeting. The girl didn't even look away from the conversation she was having. I felt bad for dude and wanted give him a cheers greeting of my own, just to show love.
- It was a tie between Snoop's "Drop It Like It's Hot" and that stupid Black Eyed Peas song "My Lumps" for the night's "freakiest dancing induced by a minimalist hip-hop track."
- The promoter gave me a shot out, which was cool but embarrassing at the same time (I almost felt like I had to write a positive review of the night because of it).
As for the show, the Undahoggs came on around 11 p.m. for a short but energetic set. The five (or is it six?) member crew stalked the cramped stage like a pack of silent assassins, waiting for the kill.
The group had a decidedly West Coast feel, minus the thugged out posturing and/or the manic, ADD-style dancing you see at a lot of Bay Area 'hyphey' shows. There's was more of groovy slouch that got your head nodding to the pipm-strut beat. Lead rapper Chiefa was all homeboy-cool, along with the other members, while lyricist/comedic foil Billy Bud Toker came with a little more energy than his partners.
The group appeared multi-cultural, with white, Asian/Pacific Islander, Black and Latino/Native American all sharing the stage. They also had a fly female vocalist (whose name I unfortunately did not get)who held her own with the guys while shaking that thang with confidence and even some swagger.
Okay, now here's the tough part: the group used their backing vocals for all of the songs, which made it hard to distinguish between their stage voices and that being played through the speakers. And when the DJ dropped the beat for supposed dramatic effect, they didn't quite know how to pick it up. At some points, group members paused mid-flow, as if the song had been cut off prematurely.
Still, it was nice to see a local crew go for theirs in front of a foreign crowd and emerge relatively unscathed. At the end of the night, BBT grabbed the mic and yelled "This is m-----f----ng fun y'all," which was all I needed to hear.
Monterey County has yet to produce a true break-out hip-hop artist or group, someone who gets respect on an expanded regional level while holding down for their stake of land. Maybe the Undahoggs are it, maybe not. But for the moment, they've shown this writer that they have the passion and, more importantly, the potential to make it happen.
For more information on the Undahoggs, visit their Web site at www.undahoggs.com.