Friday Night at Springboard South: A Beat-Down of Its Own
The upstart, three-day music fest opened the evening with its hip hop and R&B acts. The dearth of available street parking had little to do with Springboard, though. The cars that flooded the area were mostly driven by rap fans who were headed to BBVA Compass Stadium for the H-Town Beat Down.
Maybe Springboard's organizers intentionally scheduled these acts Friday night to capture some of the foot traffic departing the soccer stadium after hearing Kendrick Lamar and a host of established rap acts. It could have been pure coincidence. Either way, the symbiosis wasn't lost on the handful of us there to watch Springboard's emerging rappers and soulful singers. You had to be careful walking into Warehouse to not trip over the umbilical cord that connected these acts from those performing a stadium show just steps away in downtown Houston.
The rap acts were prominently grouped into the more intimate Studio room at Warehouse Live. Good thing, since they played 15-minute sets to scarce crowds the entire night. That says a lot less about them as talents than it does about Houston music fans. More on that in a bit.
I hadn't even slurped the foam from my first beer when I'd already found a Google-worthy act, Trap Sensei. Rapper Mike Leww hit the stage around 8 o'clock with some 1 a.m. energy and had heads bobbing to "Embrace the Enemies." That's a standout track on the Trap Sensei Soundcloud page, and sounds even better chopped.
When Austin rapper Read Richarts was done with his set, I knew I was in the right place. First, who knew there were rappers amid the indie-rockers in the ATX? And second, who knew there was one as good as Richarts? He has a Kanye-like tenor to his voice and his music sounds like places west of Houston, even further west than Austin. "B.A.L.L. (Be a Living Legend)" stuck with me.
Ike Allday took the stage looking like the guy next door. The one whose rhymes are clear and refreshing as glacier waters. He might be the only Houston rapper who could pull off a line like "ever since she heard my CD, she's been trying to grab my wee-wee." His "Cigarillos" video features more you-oughta-know talent from singer Kayla Robison. He was followed by Keem the Franchize, who wore his heart on his shirt; it read, "Cancer Survivor." Without getting into the gory details, he kicked off his set by telling us he'd been in a three-year battle and was happy to be alive and performing for us. Then he proved it with a solid, upbeat set. Bonus points for doing his first two songs while wearing a dope-ass backpack shaped like an NES controller.
Over in the Ballroom, the music leaned to R&B and, as could be expected, there were some stellar voices. I played my best Idol judge and put through to the next round two big talents, Bel-Ami and Wayne Brezz. The former sang in front of a full live band, which was nice considering all the DJ-driven sets we'd heard. He had wifey swooning to "(U Do) That Thing," a throwback jam. Being from The Clarke, I'm happy to hear any talent coming from South Post Oak area, so my ears perked up when Wayne Brezz, a Willowridge grad, was introduced. He did the rest with like-butter vocals.
Review continues on the next page.