The breeze is cold and intimate, ready to quiver the strings of the night for the embrace of suave, rich traditional Brazilian music and the possessed spirit of hip-hop and Go-go sounds.
Grammy-nominated artist Christylez Bacon became the “tour guide for crazy D.C.” while well-known Brazilian vocalist, Cissa Paz, painted the essence of Brazil with descriptions of the lush landscape, the taste of passion fruit juice and the sounds that hum through her homeland.
Part of the Washington Sound Museum concert series, which Bacon founded in 2011, this performance tangles the rhythm and power of hip-hop with other genres of music from diverse reaches of the globe such as Ireland, India and of course, Brazil.
After performing their hybrid experiment, they took it to NextNOWFest at The Clarice Performing Arts Center, where while there were few in the crowd, the music was still irresistible and entrancing. Some audience members even danced in front of the bar throughout the remainder of the event.
Beat-boxing and improvising his way through the night, Bacon used an iPad to loop certain beats, calling the performance “Digital Chris.” There was even a “Drum-scratch [and] beat-box breakdown,” which you can check out here.
Technology was a prominent facet in Bacon’s pieces, including “Pre-Paid Minutes”, a song he wrote during his first and only semester of college. The song is about the prepaid cell phone his girlfriend always bothered him about. Paz chimed in with bits of Portuguese and participated in the chorus. Her smooth voice contrasted nicely with Bacon’s rapping and quick tempos.
As Paz sang her songs, such as “Snake,” which explored about the way that people sometimes seem harmless and sometimes do not Bacon easily aligned with her, his body bobbing and responding to the croon of her words.
“The bridge for tolerance, for respect and trying to understand the best way for me is music because it means peace, it means love and it means trying to sympathize,” Alejandra Camarillo Berumen, a lawyer in Mexico and currently a teacher at Northwestern and Eleanor High School, said.
The last piece, more than any other, left chills in my bones and on my skin. It was waterfalls reincarnated, pinned on the flap of the tent engulfed the audience with its ancient kiss, the dance of its hips.
This mesmerizing intro led to a warm goodbye.
“The idea of having all those different kinds of music that all the different instruments that would be in their own place normally all come together and just melt together, it’s genius, it’s wonderful. I really appreciate the sounds of Portuguese, the way it comes off the tongue and the way it enters the ears it’s beautiful, it’s music itself,” Tamar Gasko said, a junior and a theatre major and leadership studies minor.
Paz described a flying praying mantis that anchored itself on Paz’s microphone as a blessing, since the last song was about the wisdom that people absorb from the earth, the coexistence and the beauty it pulses. It continued to fly across the room as the remaining notes were played, perching on the stand in front of the violinists and finally settling on one of the pillows across from me.
Maybe I am overanalyzing or maybe it’s the truth, but it seemed to be that the mantis was a symbol of the message Bacon is attempting to spread: that no matter what language you speak or what mountains make up your spine or what oceans fill your veins, music is creates a web of unity and plants beauty wherever it lands.
“Even though we are few people [in the audience] they will spread the voice and you should listen to this person and this kind of music because it’s something new, it’s something good,” Camarillo Berumen said.
Featured Photo Credit: A disc jockey performs along side Christylez Bacon and Cissa Paz throughout their performance at NextNOW Fest. His scratching supplemented the South American rhythms played by the percussion section. (Ryan Eskalis/Bloc Reporter)
Karla Casique is a sophomore journalism major and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Ryan Eskalis is a senior broadcast journalism major and can be reached at email@example.com.