Young musicians at USC never fail to put on a good show
Thanks to Pinot, The Cleanse, and Jordan Pharoah, I had a blast at one of the best shows I’ve been to in a very, very long time. As my visiting friend (and aspiring artist) Ryan Jarvis and I made the trek over to USC’s Ground Zero, known for delicious milkshakes and great shows, all I was expecting to see was my good friend Justin Klunk play saxophone in a band for a guy named Jordan Pharoah. Little did I know, my mind was going to be blown while I danced the night away.
Jordan Pharoah was a great opener for the night. His familiar face was recently on the A Capella show, The Sing-off, as a member of The Backbeats (made up of both USC and UCLA students). With a band consisting of horns and all the works, they had a lot of soul and the crowd responded really well, even when he closed his set with Cee Lo Green’s “F*** You.”
The eight piece hip-hop group, The Cleanse, at first glance didn’t look like the typical funk and rap group, but like the old saying says, don’t judge a book by its cover. The band was superb with transitioning into different songs and getting everyone dancing to their funky hip-hop grooves.
Harry Mack, the lead MC, has some serious talent. While each song may have had some sort of structure, the way Mack went in and out of free styling was impressive. He cleverly made up lines to incorporate members of the crowd and Ground Zero milkshakes. At one point, half the crowd was doing the electric slide to a cover of a Notorious B.I.G song. It felt like it was straight out of a musical.
Another way the audience got involved was shouting out topics for Mack to free style. The first one was simply cheese and he went into a whirlwind of rhymes about different kinds of cheeses and eventually compared himself to a grater. While everyone was still laughing and in complete awe, the next topic of ice cream had Mack spitting out lines about rocking the microphone even though his “skin ain’t chocolate.” To put the cherry on top of their performance, Mack rapped the intros of each band member. The Cleanse had me fully entertained and I honestly didn’t want their set to end. Unfortunately, they announced that it would be their last show. (I’m hoping they come back someday soon. They definitely need to)
After being completely impressed by the second act, my friend and I were hoping the headliners, Pinot, wouldn’t let us down and they certainly didn’t. Starting off with a high energy instrumental, they musically commanded everyone’s attention. The lead saxophonist, guitarist, bassist, keyboardist, and drummer meshed perfectly together. Their abilities as musicians were through the roof and well-balanced. The keyboardist, Nikos Syropoulos, flew his hands over the keyboard like a jazz magician. The tone he used reminded me of a soulful organ a person would hear in a church somewhere in the Deep South.
Each solo taken by all the members escalated the amount of energy from both themselves and the audience. There was barely anyone who wasn’t dancing around or at least bobbing their head. Being a band that almost only plays instrumentals, like one big jam session, it was great to see that type of music still being praised by a younger generation.
In one of their songs, they repeated “let the music take your mind,” which was completely relevant. After the show ended, everyone I talked to seemed like their mind was blown and couldn’t stop repeating how amazing Pinot was. I couldn’t agree more.
Make sure you look up each band on Facebook and click the “like” button. No really.