While many rap shows notoriously never start on time, last night’s concert [Thursday, February 4] at Kaufman Music Centers’s Merkin Concert Hall wasn’t your average Hip Hop experience.

Promptly at 7:30pm, members of the 17-piece PitchBlak brass band took to the stage for a special performance with Pharoahe Monch as the evening’s ecstatic bandleader.

In conjunction with the Ecstatic Music Festival, the performance was a collaboration between the two acts, featuring original lyrics from Monch’s fourth studio album, PTSD, set to arrangements crafted by several members of the brass band.

From strings to brass to vocals, all ingredients were present to make an eclectic, spectacular rendition of  Monch’s music, and as master of ceremonies for the night, Monch’s performance was captivating and very heartfelt. All 18 people on stage gave one thousand percent for the event, making for an enjoyable night showcasing extremely high musicianship from talented performers doubling as fans of quality Hip Hop looking to have a great time.

“I had always been looking to do something like this,” Monch said in the Guardian during an interview prior to the event.  “But for this project especially … I always wanted a more dramatic situation, live – and also to add some actors onstage, which I’ll be trying to do here, as well. The guy who is in charge [of the Ecstatic Music Festival] just presented to me how different the setting is – and the venue – from what’s normal with Hip Hop. So I was like: cool.”

The performance of the album as backed by the brass band was simply epic, being broken up into two parts with an intermission, which Monch said was more for him than anyone else joking that he sweats a lot. The sound was incredible and hearing songs such as “D.R.E.A.M.,” “Still Standing,” “Losing My Mind,” “Post Traumatic Stress Disorder,” and Monch’s smash single from his debut back in 1999, “Simon Says,” had the audience standing up from their cushioned theatre seats clapping and dancing along.

The PitchBlak brass band incorporates tubas, trombones, saxophones and other instruments traditionally not seen in Hip Hop in the spirit of The Roots and other reputed live acts, and often collaborate with a variety of emcees to recreate hip-hop albums in a unique, energetic way that offers a new, creative dimension to the live show. Absolutely incredible.

Image via Instagram courtesy PitchBlak brass band

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