Teddy Hyde jams on the saxophone live.

November 1, 2020

Musicians Mobilize for Justice at Ithaca Underground Virtual Concert

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The Ithaca Underground kicked off Halloweekend with the streaming of their second virtual concert this year: Concert for the Revolution. Ithaca Underground hosted the event on Twitcha at 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 30. Ithaca Underground is a non-profit organization that works “to provide the people of Ithaca and the surrounding communities with an all ages, radically inclusive environment for their do-it-yourself ambitions, ensuring that new and challenging music is available to all.” Last Spring, they created Quarantine Concerts which offered artists the opportunity to make and share music in quarantine, which had detrimental effects on the music industry. Ithaca Underground came to the aid of many artists when they needed it the most.  

As the concert’s name suggests, Concert for the Revolution promoted the BLM movement and protests for social change that followed in the local area. Viewers were encouraged to donate via PayPal or Venmo to the Ithaca Pantheras Bail Fund. They announced that the money raised that night would be used to bail out anyone who was arrested during the ongoing protests in the Ithaca community. Donations could be made to support the bail fund or any number of the artists that night: Destiny USA, Teddy Hyde, Otodojo and Overflow.

Local artist, Destiny USA performed the first segment at 8:10 pm sharp. The program began with a number of technological difficulties. But, among other things, this pandemic has taught us all to be patient with the glitches that accompany the increasing use of technology. Though the livestream certainly didn’t rival a live performance — the crowd cheering, walls vibrating, and lights blinding can’t so easily be conveyed through a 2D screen — there’s a certain intimacy in an online concert that can’t be replicated in a live performance. We watched the performance take place in Destiny’s space, on a rug or perhaps a couch, not an extravagant stage. Destiny USA’s songs were in keeping with the overall sentiment and message of the concert. Destiny USA sang into her hand-held mic: “justified anger is the purest form of love” and “nothing’s gonna happen if we sit around and stare.” At the most intense moment of the segment, Destiny USA repeated “fear” over and over again getting increasingly closer to the microphone and to the camera for added dramatic effect. With the repetition of “fear,” Destiny USA acknowledged the anxiety of the times and leveraged it as a musical tool. Amidst startling screeches into the microphone, Destiny USA delivered these important messages to the young viewers.  

 Teddy Hyde was next on the electric piano. He had a snazzy set up, with the projector in the background changing the colors of the room throughout his performance. The projector transitions with his songs, beginning with a Claymation video and concluding with a video of ants crawling on green leaves. The visual displays were almost as random and arbitrary as his song titles: “Fresh Pair of Pants,” “Welcome to Splitszville” and “Hold on to Your Seats,” to name a few. Hyde surprised the viewers when he whipped out a saxophone for his penultimate piece. Hyde lamented that he missed the effect of the live audience, so he put on a clap track to lighten the mood. He ended his performance with a message to the viewers: “Stand up for what’s right and stay frosty.” 

After some transitional tunes from Glitterskulls, Ithaca artist Otodojo’s segment began at 9:10 pm. This was not a live performance but instead a recorded video of his electronic music set to mashed up videos of protests around the world. The screen flashed with neon phrases: “abolish police,” “support each other,” “destroy white supremacy” and “end mass incarceration.” His performance was perhaps the most abrasively political one to stream in the concert that night. Otodojo managed to get in these last few powerful statements before the voiceover faded out: “We want people that are elected to start taking us seriously. We have to start showing up…” Otodojo ended on that note, leaving the viewers to settle in the implications of his words during “intermission” while they waited for the next segment.

Last, but certainly not least was rap and hip-hop artist Overflow, showing up and showing out with naked torso in a fuzzy white robe. Their energy was infectious, even through the screen. In between swigs of water and alcohol, Overflow managed to perform a number of songs: “Dungeon Sex,” “Hot Money Pussy,” “Adore Me” and “Bitch, I’m Bad to the Bone” were just a few of them. They got the chat box flowing, asking the audience to choose the songs they wanted to see him perform towards the end of the segment. Overflow provided quality entertainment for his audience, but their performance was not without a deeper message. Overflow started and finished their livestream with “defund IPD.” They also left us with an inspirational message: “Go out there and do great things.”

Ithaca Underground provided a platform for artists to share their music and their political messages during this turbulent time. Not only was the concert an effective outlet for artists to vent their frustrations with the current state of our society, but it was also thought-provoking entertainment for its viewers.

 

Isabelle Pappas is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. She can be reached at icp6@cornell.edu.