Peace dot Love Festival featuring Big Boi of Outkast - November 11th, 2010

Review and photos by: Matt Ing

Odario Williams, lead singer of Grand Analog said it best, “Music makes the world go round.” Peace dot Love does exactly that, and adds a touch of making the love go round as well. It’s built up of a young team, seeking to conquer violence through art and music. The group was inspired after the 2008 random and motiveless double murder of two young men, Oliver Martin and Dylan Ellis, in downtown Toronto.  Since then, Peace dot Love has been generating funds for their quest, this year hosting a music festival at Toronto’s Guvernment nightclub. All proceeds were donated to War Child Canada, Leave Out Violence Canada, and Peacebuilders International Canada.

The show was hosted by MTV’s Nicole Hollness and Flow 935’s Devo Brown. It featured a healthy line-up of rising Canadian talent including the likes of Blues in D, Keys N Krates, Grand Analog, and Reema Major and was headlined by Savannah, Georgia’s finest, Big Boi, from the legendary rap group Outkast.

Crowds began to pile in as Blues in D performed their hearts out in their country-blues-esque kind of way. The band is from Toronto and by the looks of it; they’re on the verge of putting Toronto on the map when it comes to their upbeat type of blues. If you’re ever seeking a good live blues show, grab your beer quick, kick back and get ready to tap your foot to the easy going sounds of Blues in D.

Next up was another Toronto based group, Keys N Krates. These dudes had an exceptional crowd reception. Consisting of a hardcore drummer, a DJ and a keyboardist, Key N Krates pulled out more samples and renditions to numerous songs than a hip hop heart could ever yearn for. They shared their home-grown relevance when they dropped a Drake sample from “Money to Blow” and after that, they tore it up. Several Jay-Z remixes including a heavily bass inspired interpretation of “On to the Next One,” and a phenomenal remix that included the “Dirt Off Your Shoulder” verses over a live re-make of the “Public Service Announcement” instrumentals. Trust me, you’ll like Keys N Krates just as much as the two chicks dancing to the left of me did.

Grand Analog from Winnipeg was right after, and in my opinion, are hip hop at its finest. A DJ, bassist, drummer, emcee and a keyboardist that looks like Frank Zappa are what make up this band that combines R&B, reggae, rock and jazz into their performance. The stylings of this group were refreshing, especially their own version of A Tribe Called Quest’s classic, “Electric Relaxation.” Having a live bassist makes a hip hop show complete; especially if your bassist can put on a clinic like Warren Bray. Lead singer Odario Williams is a lighthearted spirit that pumped much energy into the performance. There was a point where he took out a kazoo and played the trumpet sample in the song that the band was playing on his kazoo. Funk is definitely back, but Grand Analog makes it seem as though it never left.

Skratch Bastid came up next with a camera in front of his turntables and a screen behind him that projected his quick hands. His name tells all because he really is a scratch bastard. If you have yet to see one of his shows, check him out and see where he got his name. Quick cuts and bold blends make this DJ who he is. He paid brief homage to the late great Michael Jackson and as he mixed into MJ’s “Beat It,” while the camera and projector revealed that Skratch was doing so with an MJ-inspired, rhinestone-covered glove on one hand.

Toronto has one talented 15-year old sensation that has been tearing up the scene since she appeared on this year’s edition of BET’s coveted awards cypher (BET’s freestyle session). Of course, I’m referring to Reema Major. The amount of swag that this young girl brings to the table is incredible. From the moment she stepped foot on stage in her blue tutu, she went hard. She carries herself as if she was a 10 year vet, because her demeanour and attitude are so raw. She gave everybody in attendance the lowdown on why she is so hungry, and said that she had lived in a one room shack at one point in her life, with seven siblings. Since then she has been seeking nothing but success. It’s great to see a female emcee come out of Toronto, who is as rugged as Reema. She’s like Kim, Foxy and Nicki all in one. Simply put, she’s Major!

In the final slot, was none other than Daddy Fat Sax himself, Big Boi of Outkast. He was backed by his DJ, Cut Master Swift and Dungeon Family member, BlackOwned C-Bone. The nearly 20-year veteran came out and sang virtually every Outkast track you could think of. Early on in his performance he told everyone that he was going to be taking requests because simply put, he’s got way too many tracks in his catalogue. After that the beat of “Ms. Jackson” came on and had the entire crowd humming and hooting the chorus, “I’m sorry Ms. Jackson, ooh, ooh, ooh, ooh, I am for real!” Other classics which had the crowd buzzing were “Bombs Over Baghdad” and “Elevators” which managed to get the entire nightclub chanting “Me and you, yo’ momma and yo’ cousin too.” Throughout the show, Big Boi went back and forth from retro Outkast tracks to some of his new solo efforts off, Sir Luscious Left Foot: The Son of Chico Dusty. If you have yet to give it a listen, what’s the hold up!? It’s his critically acclaimed debut solo album and features creative sounds with some of his best lyricism yet. Songs like “Shutterbugg” and “Shine Blockas” are two of 15 tracks on the album which he also performed at the festival.

Peace dot Love was a night of great music and had concert goers walking around with T-shirts that donned peace hand gestures and hearts on them. Amidst all of this positivity, it is only natural to sign off with some more words of Grand Analog’s Odario Williams, “Peace like the Dalai Lama, I’m out.