Tell us if you’ve heard this one before: a Jewish rapper and two reggae bands walked into a bar. Sounds like a good joke right? But there’s no punch line here. These musicians were brought together Wednesday night for a concert at Bottom of the Hill in San Francisco. Though their sounds were unique in their own right, they created a harmonious marriage to entertain the intimate crowd.
Donning a hat that looked made for Davy Crockett, Kosha Dillz took the stage first. The 34-year-old Jersey boy quickly impressed with his ability to rap in several different languages, even getting the crowd involved with some impromptu Hebrew lessons. If his multilingual proficiency wasn’t remarkable enough, he could also freestyle, a talent that earned him an opportunity to record with Wu-Tang Clan. He put these skills on display to close his set by having fans take random things out of their pockets and rhyming about them, leaving the crowd buzzing for more.
And they wouldn’t be disappointed because the foundation was set: The B Foundation, that is. The Los Angeles-based quartet oozed with the cool factor, as their front man Pat Stevenson emerged wearing his signature sunglasses. The small stage couldn’t contain their huge personalities when they started the set with a mash up of “The Cure” and “Bellyfloppin’” from their 2009 album Souvenirs Novelties and Party Tricks. They ensured that the fans were not left Waiting by moving into “Mixed Emotion” from their most recent album.
In true entertainer fashion, they kept the crowd involved by suggesting a circle dance pit to their next tune. And as they started jamming to the skaa-influenced “DeerPark N Madison,” it was impossible not to start skanking around the tiny dance floor. After giving the fans an option to pick cover song 1, 2 or 3, they jokingly began singing an acoustic version of No Doubt’s “Don’t Speak,” prompting a giggling sing-a-long. In tribute to their influencers, they then played the winning song: the Sublime version of “We’re Only Gonna Die from Our Own Arrogance.”
Segueing into a jam session complete with hip thrusts and leg kicks, it was clear that the stage was where they belonged. They dedicated their next song to the ladies in the crowd, plunging under the sea into a reggae version of “Kiss the Girl” from The Little Mermaid that would make Walt Disney proud. Taking it back to where it all began, they closed the set with “Spliffed” from their debut record.
As the stage was cleared, the venue began to fill in anticipation for the headlining act Ballyhoo. Led by lead vocalist/guitarist Howi Spangler, they stormed the stage to thunderous approval. With a name that literally means “talk or writing that is designed to get people excited,” they didn’t disappoint by jumping into new tunes “Jameson” and “Mixtape.” When they started playing “Cali Girl,” the fans made the state proud by singing and dancing to every word.
The band needed no fancy light show or fog machine: it was all about the music. Spangler’s soulful voice cut through the venue and you could tell he believed every word he sang. If you closed your eyes, you could easily imagine listening to them in your car as they sounded just like they do on their CDs. Spangler finally let loose halfway through the set, leaving his microphone stand to jam before leading the group in “Fast Times”, “The Fool” and fan-favorite “Diamonds.”
Eclectic opener Kosha Dillz rejoined the band onstage for “Saw Her Standing,” impressing again with his natural ability to freestyle on just about anything. After, Ballyhoo continued to show their diversity, giving a nod to punk rock with a cover of “Time Bomb” by Rancid.
Just when the crowd thought they could take a break from dancing, the opening chords to “Walk Away” began to play, prompting everyone to participate in the chorus. Altering the lyrics to “Morning Sunlight,” they elicited hoots and hollers by singing “San Francisco, the things I’ll do to you” before closing the set with an ice, cold “Cerveza.”
Not even seconds after they finished, chants of “one more song” erupted from the crowd. With just his guitar in hand Spangler returned solo to play an acoustic version of “Close to Me”, the band rejoining him halfway through. As they closed the show with the lyrics, “Last night, I fell in love for the last time,” we respectfully disagreed: we would fall in love with these artists over and over again.