Dry, like a blistered hot link left on the grill too long is the venue. Only a few handfuls of people who dared brave the scolding heat on the third and final day of the Music Taste Good Festival are found walking around; a small batch of those in attendance held their ground under the barrage of gamma rays that beamed down from above in front of the stage waiting for the next act, brave souls. All else who arrived early are all clustered under the one and only refuge from cover, the white tent. Marco’s Treats, an ice box attached to a bicycle is rolling around providing frozen treats as relief from the capsaicin infused air.
Christian Scott, trumpeter and composer only brings more heat to the scene with a blazing performance, hot fiyah! Christian introduces the band, including a flutist by the name of Elena Pinderhughes. Like the perfect patty melt, their styles meld together in brass wind bliss complimenting each other like angelic duet.
Las Cafeteras brings a more of a political and social justice stance with their artistry referencing notable movements with quotes like “Si Se Puede”, “Black Lives Matter” and a song directed to the president. Serving Afro-Caribbean and fusions of punk, hip-hop, cumbia and rock they are a regime of cross genre singers and musicians dedicated to storytelling and activism. Live instruments give breath to the set along with a form of dancing titled Zapateado. If Las Cafeteras were a drink they’d be coffee spiked with ginseng, a jolt of brazen energy bearing weapons of mass instrumentation: a requinto (a type of guitar), a donkey jawbone, the Marimbol and a West African bass instrument bearing the message of awareness.
Gallant emerges from the smoke not too long after Las Cafeteras with a sound similar to a mash up of Maxwell and the Weekend. His falsetto is as airy as the stage smoke that garnishes the stage. Gallant’s sporadic dancing can only be described derivative of Desiigners’ latest Zombiewalk dance but to r&b chords, heavy reverb and grungy synthesizers instead of trap beats and incessant ad-libs. Performing “Weight in Gold,” Gallant rips from one end of the stage to the other hitting high notes as tall as the surrounding buildings. Gallant is a one man jamboree, often leaving the mic for boisterous dancing only to come back to the mic to advise the crowd that feels like he’s been ‘Talking to Himself”, a track off his 2016 album release of Ology. “Open Up”, on Ology as well, features artfully contradicting lyrics like “throw me in the fire until I’m frozen”, “leave you in the sun until you’re soaking” and “keep me underwater til’ I’m breathing” which are a testament to the contradictory soft r&b vocals over heavy electronic tracks that actually become the perfect compliment to one another. With a fusion of electronic music, light rock and soulful R&B Gallant gives lyrical aplomb and an equally entertaining performance.
Sunlight beams from the stage in the evening darkness in the form of De La Soul. Opening with “It’s a Grande” the group stops the show to directly request that the photographers in the media pit not be on their phones or capture images but instead to be present for at least “half a song”. The insistent request takes as long as 2 minutes before the group is appeased. De La Soul drew the largest crowd and the most crowd participation much like a scene out of Kid and Play’s “House Party” actually the group goes into a karaoke style sing along with “Rolling with Kid and Play” an ode to the party scene in the movie House Party, hundreds of voices sing “Oh La Oh La Ey” filling the eardrums of those blocks away. A crowd of young and old instantly turn into party mode. The scent of ganja smoke fills the air as the crowd bounces together, hands in the air, toddlers on shoulders and reciting lyrics that evoke nostalgia and hip hop pandemonium. De La Soul plays “Oooh” and “My, Myself and I” as people point their index finger to themselves. In celebration of the weekend, the DJ cues “Saturday” even though its Sunday, the fun being had can be read on the faces of the smiling crowd; the excitement and anticipation for this act is apparent as fans rock vintage t-shirts with De La Soul lyrics and cartoons caricatures of the group from way back when. Paying homage to J Dilla, a popular producer in the hip hop world, De La Soul hit Music Tastes Good with “vibrations” in the song “Stakes is High” encouraging the crowd to chime in on an acapella “vibrations” chant before the song’s end. Judging from the crowd size which extended from the stage a few hundred yards to the sound booth, De La Soul proves to be the set everyone is waiting for.
The heart of Long Beach bolsters many eclectic restaurants, live music joints and a flourishing art scene; Music Tastes Good is the platform that showcases Long Beachs’ concentrated and diverse compote of people, music, culture and art, capping off perhaps one of the best end of Summer/intro to Fall parties Long Beach has seen in a while. Until next years’ festivities, happy listening and Bon Appetit!