Chali 2na & The House of Vibe, The Gaff – 09.02.19 – Capital Ballroom, Victoria, BC
Yo, Canada, can we just give Chali 2na honorary citizenship already? The hip-hop legend (Both with a spray can and on the mic) is basically family now here on the Canadian West Coast and Saturday night at Capital Ballroom in Victoria, Chali 2na and his incredible band, The House of Vibe, showed yet again why he's a mainstay in people listening diets...and judging from the reception he and the band received for 2+ hours, a mainstay in peoples' hearts.
The band, one of the tightest (But somehow ephemerally loose at the same time) bands around, The House of Vibe held things down with ease as they helped 2na run through a career-spanning set that touched on two-plus decades of Chali's world class hip-hop. Loose and relaxed, the band was smiling as much as the man himself (Which is A LOT) during the set as they flexed their considerably funky muscles from beginning to end. Every time I see these cats play (I've seen them more than a dozen times now), I always think at least once in the night, “Man, Anthony (Brewster) is fucking sick. I know he gets some spotlight every set, but I really wanna see him do an opening set or something one of these times.” And then, this past Saturday, as I'm thinking that very thought, the band launches into an extended medley with Anthony front and centre rocking “Get Up, Stand Up” and “Smoke Two Joints.” Note to the House of Vibe for next time: Loved that, more of that please. As great of a band as the House of Vibe is, Chali 2na is the guy that makes the motor move.
Just know Chali from Jurassic 5? Well, he's gonna play a few songs to cover you. Know him from his more recent work with The Funk Hunters and Westwood Recordings (Like his recently released beast of an EP Instrumentality)? He's got you covered. Know Chali from his (I'm calling it here) timeless hip-hop masterpiece, Fish Outta Water? He's got you covered there as well. In fact, no matter how many times I've seen the songs from F.O.W. I'm still amazed at how big they hit in the live setting. Whether it's the hard-hitting “Guns Up” or the tender, contemplative “Righteous Way,” or the downright grimy “So Crazy,” the songs on that landmark album are captivating. They are a part of my musical make-up now. I could honestly watch Chali and the House of Vibe just play that album once a year for the rest of my life and I'd be a happy human. Thankfully though, Chali is straight-up relentless in his output and is always creating new music and new art. The thoughtful and sublime “Blue Marble” from Instrumentality was a track that I originally glossed over, but in a live setting, whooooa boy, that struck deep. As 2na continues to add music to his repertoire, his sets just get longer, adding new stuff into the mix while not taking old staples out. It's a good choice because honestly, is there such a thing as too much Chali 2na? After more than two hours of grooving and smiling, I think a packed Capital Ballroom would answer that with a resounding “No. No, there is never too much 2na.” Another west-coast success for the immortal 2na fish.
Alright, I'd be remiss in writing this little review without mentioning the groovy stylings of one of the smoothers operators in the DJ game, The Gaff. Getting things started on a rare snowy night in Victoria is never an easy thing and I was one of only a handful of people there when Gaff took his place behind the decks, but he did the thing and gave zero fucks how many people were there, going in straight away with the goods. At one point my brother asked me, “So, Gaff is a scratch guy right?” A moment later Gaff was scratching up a storm, as he does, and my brother was in. That's a win on a dude notoriously iffy on the whole DJ thing. And apparently, his main turntable (The left, because he's a lefty) stopped reading Serato 10 minutes into his set so he had to dig into his apparently vast improvisation skills to make that shit go- The mark of a true master. By the time he finished his set the room was packed and sweaty, all lubed up and ready for Chali & The House of Vibe to do their thing. Good snap.