Live Review: ayo dot and the uppercuts, deadly d, double b and laceS, eli hotep

March 15 • the fairhaven

The stage was host to hip-hop musicians from across northwest Washington on Saturday night for the Fairhaven’s Grand Opening weekend in the newly re-opened restaurant, bar and venue.
Eli Hotep started the night with genuine, meaningful rap. Alone on stage he brought honest and uplifting rhymes based on life as he lives it. With vocals and a message that were easy to hear and appreciate, Eli adeptly controlled the stage and engaged the crowd. An up and comer, he is one to watch on the Northwest hip hop scene.
Next up was Double B and Laces. Coming to town from Olympia, drummer Laces and emcee Double B were linked in their performance. The fast staccato rap and concise drumming remained clean and intentional throughout their set – Double B and Laces easily engaged the audience, and everyone joined in calls and responses, clapping and singing with the guys on stage. The duo divulged the inspiration before the songs to help the crowd appreciate the rapid fire lyrics and also did a freestyle based on things in the audience’s pockets, a’la improv theatre. Throughout their set the drumming was solid and the emcee’s stories were relatable and amusing, more than once, the whole room laughed together at the clever lyrics. While some of it was tongue in cheek, the rhymes were always smart.
Ayo Dot and the Uppercuts make up a full band; drummer Jeff McNamara, bassist Chris Wadsworth, guitarist Jordan Haas, back up vocalist Whitney Killian, and emcee Ayo Dot himself. The chemistry was undeniable as the Seattle group created solid songs and a well executed set. Ayo Dot and Whitney Killian both have a strong voice and stage presence – the lyrics were positive, honest and relatable, the music was danceable. Each musician was individually strong in their role and the group worked as a team on stage to create a full sound and overall experience – the band brought a lot; soulful singing, call backs, powerful bass riffs, great dancing and even a well executed, unique Queens of the Stone Age cover.  Overall this set offered a lot more than just hip-hop.
After a short break Deadly D took the stage with all eyes to the front. They dove right into a well coordinated set. The transitions were smooth including when Lydia Davis joined as back up vocalist with Drummer Tommy Mutchler, Guitarist Mac Christion, and Deadly Duo; Steve Borden and Michael Pianki.  Voices from the crowd joined in singing songs they had heard before, including “Cocaine (Artificial Bliss),” the new video for which was released the day before. The musicians and emcees were comfortable together on stage and delivered a full performance using the whole stage yet allowed the focus to remain on the music, which while rap driven, is clearly influenced by many genres.
Throughout the night, the performers shared their love of hip-hop, music, art, and expression. They called on the crowd to raise their hands and their voices for the love of the music, and the people did.
-Thea Hart