By Tommy Jordan of Urban Fantasy:
I was at work a few months ago and felt a familiar feeling down it my pants. My phone buzzing. It was a short text message from my own lovely lady (Dani, who’s also my bandmates). It said her dad had given a ride to a badass dude who made music under the name NTRL, and that her dad showed him our music. He dug it. So clinging to my long-standing business philosophy of seizing EVERY opportunity that ever comes my way, I hit him up, and he offered us a show. At Barboza.
The two months preceding the show date were a little rough around the edges. Mostly first world problems, but still, rough around the edges. Life hadn’t been filled with band practice really at all, and a lot of projects we were working on collectively as Urban Fantasy sat stagnant in their own juices. I spent time hoping that the juice would just make it better, or aged, or more mature. I’m not positive if that happened but I like to think so.
Jacob took a step back from doing shows with us but he’ll still be around, and we can expect to hear his sweeping synth with those classy-ass danceable rhythms on future Urban Fantasy tracks. Since Jacob left the live set up, under a time crunch I started the long process of putting together the beats for our live show. This was a large amount of splicing, editing and mixing in the week before the show. Richard Sandbom really bailed me out there, made us some leveled-out show mixes to melt some faces with. Richie, who I consider my longtime music cohort is just that type of dude. The type that bails me out when I take on too much and have too little time.
We emerged from this process revamping the live set as Urban Fantasy, with a computer, a digital turntable, an actual turntable, a collection of a capella rap records, children’s records, an old radio programs for samples, and cross fader. This has put me back in the helm a DJ/rapper, and I gotta say, I still got it kinda. I mean I have a long way to go in the world of becoming an excellent DJ. But I still can rhyme circles around Dr. Seuss and look good while I do it. We had a few days to practice, and hammered out everything we could, including a few new tunes never done before. We practiced everyday, and one day all day long.
Some background: I’ve been an indie musician actively working in a live setting in various acts in the same town for five years. I’ve never broken into the popular trend of my local town, but I feel as though I do have the respect of many of my peers, and many of them have seen me go through several artistic manifestations, and all agree that Urban Fantasy as an act is “the one.” The one to ride into hell. So thats what I’m going to do. In the the immortal words of Sage Francis “imma ride that horse till it bucks me off and I’m forced to shoot it down.”
Barboza is a venue owned by Neumos in the heart of Seattle. Neumos is one of the bigger venues which many of my heroes have played. It’s a seat that up and coming bands long to sit on. It’s the throne. A throne I’ve been watching. So to get offered Barboza was a huge deal for me. I had never played a venue that respected and was really excited to have that opportunity. It made me nervous and giddy, and excited to have a soundcheck beyond an on the fly one in a dive bar. P.S. I love the dive bar as well.
We made it down there in one piece and nervous as hell. My friend James allowed us to use his truck and we can’t thank him enough for that, as we are still saving to purchase a vehicle. We hit soundcheck and the first person we met was ZNI, his DJ, Charma, and his drummer, all of whom were incredibly nice. I walked around to the front of the stage and watched NTRL’s sound check. I made eye contact Jason Whitney and he gave me an affirming nod. I started to feel less nervous. Everyone around us was so kind and excited to hear us, and the little voice in my head, the one that fills your head every time you do a public display of art, that tells you things like “their not gonna like you.” Well, he shut the fuck up this time.
We had an awesome soundcheck. The sound technician was amazing, and very kind. Dani and I got some coffee, meandered around in the rain on Capitol hill and then hit the venue to perform. This was our first time without Jacob and I used my laptop and a turntable for samples, which went pretty well. I think we killed it. I barely saw Dani but I heard her voice strong through the monitors and every time I glanced over she was smiling and dancing. We played some new tunes, although I imagine all the tunes were new to the crowd. This included a song called “The Anthem,” the lyrics of which are a serious tongue twister and about as fast and complex rhythmically as I have ever rapped. We dedicated one of our most popular songs, “Holy Shit Mom!” to Dani’s mother, who was there (she and Dani’s dad have been incredibly kickass and supportive of our indie ventures). She loved it. It went stunning. We closed off our set with another new song called “The Future” which both me and Dani are feeling splendid about. Dani did a lot of improvised singing and ended on a beautiful acapella stanza. We left the stage and were greeted warmly by the crowd. Nothing but handshakes and love from everyone including the security people and the venue folks.
ZNI hopped on stage next. It was ZNI, the emcee himself, a DJ and a drummer. They killed it, with danceable songs and undeniable hooks, I literally still have one of them stuck in my head. I was singing it to Dani last night. He took the opportunity to point out that it was the eve of the NFL playoff game against the packers and that if nothing else we should be celebrating that. The football industry has been great for us in Washington this last year, good for the economy for the morale of the people who live in 8 months of rain and darkness, and I feel as though we all really needed that boost. The crowd went wild. ZNI killed it. Really fun party music. It was totally Vegas.
NTRL the headliner took the stage with a three person act. The sound was exciting, reminiscent of The Prodigy, with some Beastie Boy-like harmonies on the more hip hop parts. They had an industrial sound that was a throwback to the late 90s and Jason, the lead singer/emcee gave more than one hundred percent on stage. But I imagine thats what he’s like at everything. He had the whole crowd laughing at banter and participating in songs. The guitarist was incendiary, and had a stellar voice that really added to the overall juxtaposition of the chorus and catch phrases. The base lines were
phat and rolling like Hennessy mixed with anarchy, a mix of class and chaos. We watched from the front and had a hell of a time. When they finished we grabbed our shit, and left the venue into some of the most serious rain I’ve seen in years. We made it home in one piece, woke up late, and watched the Seahawks win a very very tense game. Fireworks went off on the drive back to Bellingham. I was tired, glad to be home, but I really felt like we had emerged victorious from this whole venture.
It’s been a hell of a few months putting together the live set, Jacob leaving the live scene and us reworking songs, and putting forth more effort as a team and as a couple. I’m really grateful to everyone on my team, and I mean everyone. From my friends at work who wish me good luck, to my boss who lent me her car to drive music equipment to practice spaces. To all the Shepherd Boy Records kids, out on their grind, fighting the winter blues with music. To my parents and family whom I believe really support me rapping after the release of a very personal album I did for them for christmas. I still get frustrated and jealous of my peers who have succeeded beyond me. I wish I lived in the city. I still wish I had my shit together more or felt more like a grown up. We had an opportunity to move last summer, but were low on finances and it didn’t feel right. But throughout this winter and all the people I’ve met, all the people who are on my team, I wouldn’t change it for the world. I learn more every day, and I’ve finally succeeded at making music I stand behind and that has a positive influence on the listeners. This year is going to be life-changing, and I’m so thankful just to be on this thrill ride.
I’m going to be less available in the near future since Dani and I are working hard on an EP and have several videos we are working on. So if you don’t see much of me, just remember I’m busy trying to pull the sword from the stone and it’s getting looser, and I think I got a fair shot at the crown.