Review and photographs by Tim Livingston
It felt a bit like a clandestine meeting as we drove around the back of the darkened Basilica in Hudson in search of the mysterious Hangrr 18. Our headlights cut through the light fog that the warm September night produced until we noticed the flashing lights and heard the beat of the music emanating from the single-door opening of the bunker-like cement-block performance space. Hangrr 18 is the spot were Hudson rap prodigy (the still very young) Young Paris, on this his 24th birthday, chose to hold the CD release party/performance for his latest rock/rap/R&B project Black N Gold and the band’s new album “Pet The Lights.”
Earlier in the evening, Paris hosted an all-ages meet-and-greet reception at the Armory in Hudson, where they played songs and videos from the album, but this later event was where we would see the full band perform live for the first time. It was a DIY affair, and the whole scene had a cool underground feel to it.
Some people lingered outside in the warm night air, but as we entered the room a little after 10pm, it was in full dance-party mode. Paris attracts a diverse crowd from all walks of life and age groups, and they were all represented on the floor. It was a loose, fun party, going on both inside and out, until 11pm when the band got ready to hit the stage, and the room filled up in anticipation.
Paris has always been a connoisseur of intelligent, rapid-fire verse in the hip-hop tradition, and this new album is no exception, blending his lyrics with r&b flair, but make no mistake.. this was a rock show! The powerhouse band that YP assembled made the songs even more hard-hitting live than the already kicking studio versions on the album.
Anchoring the group on bass was none other than Tommy Stinson. In a few weeks he will be jetting off to Vegas for a two week run with Guns N’ Roses, but tonight he was once again (like he did recently with Kris Perry’s “Machines” project) championing another young local artist by lending his time and considerable talents to help them pursue their dreams. I have gone on the record before as to what a huge fan I am of Tommy and his solo work. It’s too seldom that he plays guitar and fronts his own band. However, I also love hearing and watching him play bass. When he straps on his four-string axe in the side-man role, it takes whatever the project is to another level. You can tell this guy has been doing this since he was 11 years old! The instrument becomes a part of him, and he is so rock solid that it’s amazing. A bonafide rock star and a real class act! My hat goes off to Tommy Stinson.
The rest of the band were spot on, too. A top-notch collective of musicians with Steve Durand and Jordan Dean on guitars, Rob Williams on drums, Miles Vidor on vocals and percussion and the sultry-voiced Lady Moon on vocals. This accomplished unit drove the Black N Gold songs full-throttle with a near-punk-like urgency getting nearly everyone in the house up and moving through the whole set. Tonight, however, was Paris’ night! In constant motion, rapping, singing, dancing, getting people involved. Paris doing what he does best… and tonight he was red-hot, turning out one high-energy-fueled performance.
They opened up with the lead-off track from the album, “Walk On,” following it with the quieter, but no less powerful “Do You Know” and then “Days Sleep.” Part of the beauty of this album is the many styles blended together, from the flat-out rock of the title track to the acoustic and jazzy “Falling Down” (featuring Lady Moon), one of the many fine tracks on the record that the band did not perform live on this evening.
The aforementioned title track, “Pet the Lights,” is a hit record in a perfect world. Intricate word-play, rockin’ guitars, the soaring vocals of Ms. Moon and just a killer groove that I dare anyone not to move to. After igniting the crowd with that one, Lady Moon led the audience in a “Happy Birthday” sing-along to Milandou (aka Young Paris) followed by the band blowing the roof off the place with the storming “Africa Rock (Diata).” Wow, the energy in the room at this moment was amazing – most of the audience down in front, hands in the air, pogoing up and down and clapping in unison, as Paris and Lady Moon rocked them through this storming number, the band pushing it to a mighty roar. A breathtaking, thrilling finale!
You would think after two release parties in one night Young Paris might have been ready for a breather, but there he was the following Saturday, out on the streets of Hudson, selling the CD to passersby. I have said before that this guy is a marketing tour de force, and his enthusiasm and energy is inspirational and contagious. Vive la Paris!!!!
If you have a chance to see Black N Gold live, do it and pick up a copy of the album “Pet the Lights” now available on iTunes and perhaps on a street corner near you soon!