Hiphopalooza Nov. 4 at Berbati's Pan

Hip-hop tree falls in the forest, does, in fact, make a sound.

[HIP-HOP] Hiphopalooza 2005 was a bust. A criminally underattended, suspiciously overpriced, uncreatively named bust. Not that anyone on stage seemed to care. Here's a blow-by-blow:

Security staffers outnumbered the nodding heads early in the night as the boys from Portland's Clockwerk busted rhymes with not one but two nervous-looking and surprisingly soulful back-up singers on stage. Note to the group: work those two into your permanent rotation.

Dallas, Texas' Amaginary Friends did little to improve its city's stale image. Despite a fundamentally solid DJ named Dildo, the group lacked any sort of cohesive flow, and head MC Poindexter rocks a USB memory stick around his neck: What's up with that?

After a solid set by Suckapunch, DJ Chill shuffled onto the stage smoking a cigarette and looking like he hadn't slept in a week, pretty much the overwhelming look at Berbati's Friday. He mumbled something in monotone about "feeling the funky scratch in your soul," busted up laughing, then came alive and woke up the scattered crowd with crackin' beats.

Portland mainstay Cool Nutz had two small tirades to unload between songs—the "that shit was not hip-hop" speech, which was probably directed at Amaginary Friends, and the "act like you are at the Snoop Dogg show" speech, wherein Nutz asked the crowd to actively participate in the evening's hand-waving festivities. But it was Siren's Echo that made the small crowd sound big. These local ladies perform with a intensity and sense of purpose normally reserved for groups performing on a much larger scale.

Mikah Nine's silky, sentimental hooks got everyone in the audience—who wasn't already—high, and those who stuck around for the Likwit Junkies' set were treated to an impressive five-minute scratch clinic by DJ Babu, one of the absolute best in the business. Hiphopalooza was a bust, but you best trust that it was the best bust in town. CASEY JARMAN.

sound seen music video review

Geoff Byrd "Before Kings"

Director: Mark R. Hemingway

Geoff Byrd's music doesn't harm anyone. The former winner of KGW's "Gimme The Mic" contest and Internet-propelled pop star writes slick tunes, capably sung, employing the best of tonal functional harmony. This has garnered him massive amounts of praise by various media outlets. For those very same reasons, he has been panned by other critics as too mainstream or, frankly, boring. If you like Geoff Byrd, you're going to like this video. If you don't, it will not, in the least, nudge you toward fandom. Byrd and local filmmaker Mark R. Hemingway's low-to-no-budget video for "Before Kings" takes the song somewhat literally, scenes of a woman who done wrong spliced in with the obligatory (and more frequent) shots of Byrd singing soulfully into the camera. Hemingway aims for loose, fluid camerawork and uses it well to showcase Byrd's self-aware gaze, while many out-of-focus and overexposed shots suggest a karaoke-video gauziness. The one thing I found distracting was a scene later in the video where Byrd stands behind a window, belting his heart out to the woman, who's oblivious to Byrd's antics just outside her window. The scene is unsettlingly telling: Byrd seems to ham it up more than usual to make sure the viewer focuses on him instead of his supposed love interest. Then his light goes out and she extinguishes the candle. JESSI KRAMER.

Go to to see the video.

Small REserves

The Very Foundation (Velvafonic Records)

The very definition of boring.

[ROCK] Jammed right in the middle of the Very Foundation's debut full-length, Small Reserves, is a track composed of a voice-mail message describing the drunkenness of band frontman Michael Lewis. Over the course of the album's seven songs, this is about the most interesting moment—equivalent to, say, finding a paper-clip in a bowl of plain oatmeal. You'll wonder first why this bothersome thing is there and then why you were eating plain oatmeal to begin with. But at least oatmeal is healthy. The first full-length from this Portland trio offers nothing more than songs oozing with a flavorless self-importance. When the band breaks into bad clichés—refried antiwar complaints, can-fresh drum-roll crescendos—it's usually easy to ignore, but the music of Small Reserves is so bland that any deviation, good or bad, from the formula sticks out.

Overall, the album echoes the worst parts of mid-'90s "modern rock," when grunge copied itself into oblivion and Everclear was about the best glimmer radio-addicts had: Everything just went neutral. There's barely a variation in pitch here, the entirety of the album remaining a defiant gray whose few changes occur mostly in the volume category. If Lewis' voice is trying to break out of that colorless mid-range, it doesn't show. And even the pitched backing vocals on "Girl Friday" sound like the result of a production-level knob twist rather than an organic upper register. The song "Small Reserves" offers the smallest bit of promise with an effective vocal harmony and a clever keyboard line. But that all is wrecked moments later with the screamed lyric, "Understand they died for nothing!" No kidding. Pass the oatmeal. JASON SIMMS.

The Very Foundation plays Saturday, Nov. 12, at Music Millennium-Northwest. 5 pm. Free. All ages.

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The Very Foundation plays Saturday, Nov. 12, at Music Millennium-Northwest. 5 pm. Free. All ages.