"Dude, dude!" I hear through the Neumos will-call window on Friday night. "That girl just used her high-school ID card to pick up her tickets . . . and she was born in '96. I was born in '86 and I feel like I'm still in high school. We're getting old."
One of the biggest questions about Cinémetropolis, and by default Sabzi's new sound, was how it would play with Blue Scholars' key fan-base demographics: high-school and college kids. And, judging by the median age at Friday night's release show--which at times felt like a field trip, complete with parental chaperones--any such concern can officially be put to rest. Factor in the stellar support from talented next-generation up-and-comers like JusMoni, Helluvastate, The Good Sin, and Brothers From Another, chosen even considering the duo's impressive reach, and it could be argued the youth effectively ran things.
When I caught the Scholars at the International District's historic Panama Tea House a few weeks back, conversation on the topic meandered back and forth. Geo found good in the fact that the group existed long enough to make music fans are nostalgic for, and to cultivate fans who still care whether or not the Blue Scholars make music. Sabzi, on the other hand, was more defiant: "You can achieve the same level of intimacy with this music even though it doesn't look and sound the way you expected," he said. "Just trust us."
That spirit found its way to Neumos too. The producer who up to this point had seemed perfectly content staying behind the turntables instead became the show's focal point--narrating, crowd-surfing, even rapping, he allowed Geo to deliver some of his most developed and original material to date while doing the exact same. If anything, Cinémetropolis seems like a sonic coming-of-age tale (or bildungsroman, to keep with the theme). Some see the new Sabzi as lacking in boldness. I see the opposite--freedom.