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May 22, 2017 | by  | in Music |
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Raw Collective, Jinz Moss, and Makeshift Movements

I was not in a good mood when Pauly Lowe of Raw Collective asked me to review his band/collective’s upcoming gig/fundraiser, billed as their “last show for a while.” Stress of assignments and bouts of homesickness, coupled with the everyday hell of living at 222 Willis Street, had taken their toll on a usually positive individual, and I had come into Midnight Espresso only to get my standard affogato (don’t judge me, amateur baristas) then get back to work. The pitch Pauly gave was intriguing enough, however: a live ten person hip-hop experience, supported by the best and brightest of the Wellington hip-hop/reggae scene. Still, the proverbial coffee cup was half empty, and I felt worried about what I’d got myself into when I rocked up to Rogue and Vagabond on Saturday.

After having to convince the door staff that yes, I was supposed to be there to review the show and yes, although I wasn’t on the guestlist I had been invited by the band, I picked my vantage point from which to watch the support. Makeshift Movements moved past the initial muddy mixing of their vocals and instruments to deliver a set brimming with confidence. Post-rocky guitar leads were offset by reggae rhythms, breakbeat drums battled with ’80s synths. The sound was uncategorisable and incomparable, and better for it. While the rapping members gave it their all, the two female vocalists stole the show whenever they rode the mic, the band sounding much more comfortable delving into reggae-esque instrumentals than their faster, funkier cuts. Still, it was a confident set that had my friend convinced they were the headliners; high praise for any supporting act in my opinion.

Jinz Moss bridged the gap between the unusually excellent support and Raw Collective (who he also performed with), riding old school beats with aplomb and bags of confidence. As a temporary British expat of sorts, hearing an East London/Wellingtonian MC use Grime slang as part of his arsenal without sounding goofy provided a heady remedy to memories of Drake warbling about “chit-chat tings” on More Life. Moss only performed for about ten minutes, but knew exactly his job in the scheme of the night, getting people to the front, forcing hands in the air, and setting the tone for the main event. Shouts out to whoever added A Tribe Called Quest’s “Black Spasmodic” to the playlist, too.

The best way that I can describe Raw Collective’s sound to anyone who has yet to hear them live is to imagine an alternate universe in which Dr Dre, riding high off the success of 1992’s The Chronic, had courted, seduced, and committed to a faithful and steady relationship with various members of The Cat Empire and Fat Freddy’s Drop, and that their offspring migrated to Wellington to start a band. The meticulous brass arrangements added an extra crispness to their sound; the crowd greeted singles like “Smash The Grips” as if they had been local anthems for years, and whenever a member had a chance to show off their individual talents they took it with ease. “I want to see the new age…” Raw Deezy gasped during one of the set’s brief quieter moments. He took a second. Then, with a grin: “I want to see Donald Trump assassinated, too.” At another gig it might have felt unnecessary, attention-grabbing. But in the context of the night’s entertainment, it put a grin on my face too. In the artificial lights of the stage, my pint glass looked half full again.

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