On the Record: 2015 Intra-Island Music Tour
REVIEW BY KALANI WILHELM / Special to the Star-Advertiser
Opening night of the second annual Intra-Island Music Tour featured a plethora of impressive performances that the local hip-hop, soul, reggae and R&B scenes can be proud of. Due to a lackluster turnout, the promising live music showcase proved to be an opportunity many avid music fans didn’t take advantage of Wednesday at The Republik.
While the entire duration of the night’s happenings – five hours and nine acts – would be a lot to ask any crowd to consume, the fact that the show was on a weeknight didn’t help the show’s cause, either.
Sparse crowd numbers aside, what the show lacked in the quantity of spectators, each artist seemed to make up for in on stage quality.
Minneapolis lyricist Manny Phesto and local MC Kwalified set the tone of the evening in completely different ways just past 9 p.m. Phesto attacked the mic by way of conscious bars and positive remarks between songs while Kwalified, performing his second Republik show in as many nights, effectively went into full throttle rage mode.
The vibe veered into an uplifting direction thanks to recent Na Hoku Hanohano Award-winner Maryanne Ito. It didn’t take long for Ito’s feel good energy and honest nature to resonate with her audience, as a large majority of the females moved close to the stage to take in a Ito’s remarkably soulfully smooth voice in a showcase that was equal parts R&B, jazz and hip-hop.
Acoustic brilliance was reached when the talented singer shared the vocal spotlight with her guitarist, only to be enhanced during an uptempo number where the songstress plucked someone out of the crowd to freestyle.
“I am more than a performer. I’m a (expletive) person,” Ito said before leaving the stage.
The next highlight of the evening came in the form of Ewa Beach rapper Tripple Los. The backyard pa’ina jams were in full effect as the west side artist with Southern street twang was accompanied by partner in crime Happs and live band in a performance that best signified the nights island, reggae and hip-hop theme.
The rock-steady harmonies and powerhouse vocals of female reggae trio Smokestack kept the concert at its peak in a standout showing that had much of the crowd swaying and skanking and a small group of break dancers showing off their steps and slides just before giving way to the upbeat roots reggae stylings of Cultural Nation.
By this point, it was already 12:40 a.m. and much of the crowd had gone home leaving headliner Aquile to perform for the 20 or still in the building. To his credit, the talented soul singer and his band were unfazed by the near empty venue and rocked out with professionalism and class until the lights came on.
A big part of being an independent artist is seizing the moment, no matter if there are performing for a crowd of 10 or 10,000, and all the acts did that on Wednesday. The night could have been better from a turnout perspective, but as far as the vision of providing a statewide platform for local artists to shine, mission accomplished.
Hopefully there are better things to come when the tour hits the neighbor islands this weekend. With so much talent for the taking, it would be a shame if the show was overlooked again.
Kalani Wilhelm covers nightlife and music for the Pulse. Contact him via email or follow him on Twitter.