Sound in Focus Weekend Three – Nas

Although this year’s edition of the Sound in Focus series of free concerts at the Annenberg Space for Photography has ended, we are left with plenty of fond memories of some great music enjoyed under the summer skies, including those from last week’s performers, Wild Belle and Nas.  But why rely on potentially faulty human recollection (possibly altered by the intake of some of the tasty wares available at the food trucks and beer gardens, or from the emotional impact of the museum’s Refugee exhibition), when you can relive some of the highlights via these video flashbacks!

Wild Belle started the evening’s performances with a cool set of sultry pop confections ornamented with lots of fun touches. The Chicago-based sibling-led band performed tracks from both of their album, including one of our favorites from their latest release, Dreamland – “Throw Down Your Guns.”

Some funky percussion and tastefully-honking sax give the track a timeless vibe. But on other selections, like “Love Like This” (from their 2013 debut album, Isles), they display a nice command of easy reggae rhythms to frame their take on contemporary love songs.

Speaking of command, hip-hop superstar Nas hit the stage soon after to thunderous applause and proceeded to rock the house with hits selected from throughout his 20-plus years on the scene. It was epic to witness the legend serve up tracks such as his early single, “The World Is Yours,” stalking the stage and exhorting the crowd so that we were all left with no doubt as to whose world it really was.

Nas could even slow it down a bit, such as “One Mic,” that speaks to the power of an individual voice, even in the face of adversity.  But even as that song demonstrates, you can’t keep the power of Nas contained for very long.

By the end of the night, walking back to the car, I got a little misty knowing that Sound in Focus was done for another year.  But I cheered myself right up with the realization that there were still plenty of free events KCRW had planned before the season was over, from the Santa Monica Pier to Santa Barbara’s Museum of Contemporary Art, and from Anaheim to Chinatown.  So check out KCRW.com/summernights to plan your next outing with us, and hopefully we’ll see you back in Century City next year as well!

ERIC J. LAWRENCE