These are dark days, in some respects, but Tony "G. Finesse" Haslett, frontman for hip-hop/soul collective G. Finesse and the N.S., appeared bound and determined to keep it light during a celebratory late night stop at Spacebar on a recent Thursday.
These are dark days, in some respects, but Tony “G. Finesse” Haslett, frontman for hip-hop/soul collective G. Finesse and the N.S., appeared bound and determined to keep it light during a celebratory late night stop at Spacebar on a recent Thursday.
“There’s a lot of fucked up shit going on,” Haslett said, alluding to current events in Ferguson, Missouri, that have snowballed into a series of nationwide demonstrations calling attention to issues of race and police brutality. “Let’s bring some sunshine.”
For the better part of the evening, the musician, supported here by a five-piece band and a backup singer, managed to hold the outside world at bay, easing into a series of party-starting anthems that incorporated elements of soul, hip-hop, rock, funk and jam. On “Sky High,” a syrupy R&B burner, the musicians navigated a series of solos (keyboard, guitar, etc.) as Haslett crooned of reaching a higher plane. The band traced a similarly skyward arc on a comparatively taut radio thumper, with the frontman chanting, “1, 2, 3/ We go to the top” as the music rocked on the balls of its feet, exhibiting the grace and lightness of a welterweight prizefighter.
While the group’s output generally remained aspirational, Haslett, whose voice swung from a pinched falsetto to a gruff, scouring pad-like cadence, occasionally paused to take stock of his current lot. “I’m making moves like there’s no tomorrow,” he barked on “I Need That.” “I need to make a life change pronto.”
Similar themes surfaced in a cover of Mos Def’s “Umi Says” — “I ain’t no perfect man/ I’m trying to do the best that I can,” Haslett crooned over a celestial backdrop of twinkling keyboard — and it was difficult not to view the song’s closing refrain (“Want black people to be free, to be free, to be free”) in light of current events.
Though brief, these moments introduced a necessary weight that kept even the most out-there musical explorations grounded, and when the band returned to its assortment of funk-fueled flare-ups (“Get Your Dough,” where Haslett accurately described the crew’s sound as “new school [with an] old school flavor”), it felt like something worth celebrating.