Regal Night Out: The Shrine 4th Anniversary Party w/Large Professor & Lord Finesse (5/31/13)

Miguel "Teck" Arteaga/TCK Pro Lord Finesse (front) readies his turntables as the Large Professor gets going at the Shrine's 4th Anniversary last Friday night.

Miguel “Teck” Arteaga/TCK Pro
Lord Finesse (front) readies his turntables as the Large Professor gets going at the Shrine’s 4th Anniversary last Friday.

Ed. note – We Are Regal Radio continues its coverage into the culture of Chicago, with the series “Regal Night Out.” Here, David Evans gives you the low-down on last week’s 4th Anniversary celebration at the Shrine nightclub.

Special shout out to Miguel “Teck” Arteaga and TCK Pro Inc. for the photo. Miguel is one of the top chroniclers and promoters of hip-hop in Chicago, check out tckpro.com for more of his latest doings and happenings, including his entire photo set from Friday. Also check out the Red Bull BC One Chicago Cypher this Saturday, pitting some of the best B-Boys in the world in the ultimate test of their skills — Miguel helped put it together and he wants to see as many heads out there as possible. Tickets are only $5 and the doors open at 6 pm Saturday at the Metro. 

By David Evans, Regal Radio

Dual DJ sets by hip-hop greats Lord Finesse and Large Professor marked the four year anniversary of the The Shrine, the South Loop hot spot that has become a repeat destination for those who want to see live hip-hop, soul and many other types of music.

DJ Castle opened for the two greats, keeping the crowd moving for over two hours of classic hip-hop and R&B hits, many of the older jams being sample sources for the hip-hop songs that followed. Finesse and Large Pro would come on, each with their own set of turntables at the ready, and engage in what Large Pro later stated was an old school soundclash — something that dates past the very beginning of hip-hop culture and into its roots in Jamaican party culture. Done here in a competitive, yet friendly manner, Finesse and Large Pro played a large range of music from classic hip-hop to funk, and old school R&B.

What started with a small crowd of casual club goers at the beginning of the night turned into a packed room of of b-boys, fly girls, and die hard hip-hop fans at its height. In particular, a group of men positioned at the front of the DJ booth repeated each of the songs played by Large Pro and Finesse as if they were their own songs. Several photographers and videographers maneuvered around the room and even stood on tables attempting to get photos of the New York stalwarts, who were positioned above the crowd in the regular DJ booth, but not the main stage of the Shrine, which is often reserved for large name DJs as well as full-scale performances. Shrine security, normally on alert for trouble, were at ease this night –one member of the security team even took pictures with a group of patrons.

Lord Finesse began the show with a warning a crowd that he was still getting a feel for.

“If you’re looking for that top-40, electronical, microwave bullshit, leave right now,” the Diggin In The Crates Crew general said. Cheers came from the crowd and he and Large Pro were off.

Large Pro began the duo’s set with one of his closest collaborators — Nas and “Locomotive,” from 2012’s Life Is Good, which includes his vocals. Effortlessly, the Queens, New York native, blended Esco into the Mobb Deep/Kool G Rap collab “The Realest.”

Sounds of Large Professor’s trademark sonic howl trademark and Vincent Price’s eerie laugh (best remembered from the end of “Thriller”) could be heard through his set. Finesse took over the sounds soon after, getting the crowd going early by playing the Large Professor remix of Common’s “Resurrection,”–  a nod both to the Chicago crowd and the guy next to him. Finesse also played Large Pro’s “Ijuswannachill,” from his The LP lp, which the crowd sang along with Finesse. “Ijuswannchill” transitioned into Tribe Called Quest’s “Oh My God” which elicited more cheers from the crowd, who was being taken clear into the era when these two helped define the East Coast sound. My personal favorites from this stretch were fellow DITC members Show Biz and A.G.’s “Next Level,” D-Nice’s “My Name is D-Nice” and Eric B and Rakim’s “Paid in Full.”

As the set progressed Large Pro and Finesse, having noticed the dance cyphers forming in the crowd, began to play more pure dance music, including the Dionne Warwick standard, “You’re Gonna Need Me.” More breaks and recognizable samples came and the cyphers responded in full, made up of a complete cross-section of Chicago’s B-Boys and B-Girls. Soon, many of the crowd turned their attention to the cypher.

At the end of the night, the boisterous group of Large Pro fans were still at the front of the DJ booth, shouting for any kind of encore performance, naming the songs of his they wanted to hear. Finesse took charge after Large Pro decided to put the club onto some new Raekwon that he liked, in and spun Large Professor’s “The Hardest,” with Styles P and AZ off of 2008’s Main Source album. At this time the Shrine thought enough was enough and turned the lights on, and the beloved selectors gave their farewells to the couple dozen remaining club patrons.

After the show myself, Regal editor Kyle Means and members of several other media groups were led to the small underground room at the Shrine where artists take interviews after performances. Covered in fliers from previous performances at the Shrine, the room was packed with the artists, Shrine booker and show host Mr. Greenweedz, Briahna Gatlin from Swank Publishing (shout out to both for the hospitality), members of the Shrine’s security team and ladies who may or may not have deserved to be there but were attractive enough to warrant access regardless.

Large Pro signed autographs right away and gave interviews to the various media outlets. Still energetic and engaging after after his two-plus hour set, Large Pro spoke freely about his love for Chicago and what it meant to be at the Shrine for its anniversary. Finesse stepped into the conversation when he entered the room and took it over, first describing their relationship and Large Pro’s influence on his development as a producer.

Finesse transitioned into a speech on the current state of hip hop, delving into the ongoing clashes between those who supposedly run the game now and those who helped create a game for them to run. Finesse said that rap is the only genre where artists don’t respect its pioneers, something not allowed in R&B and rock music among others. Finesse also addressed the mentality of artists who charge others with “hating” when they don’t appreciate their music.

“You ain’t hatin’,” Finesse said. “You just have an opinion, and (they) don’t like it.”

Finesse continued his diatribe on hip hop, criticizing contemporary rappers, the music media (mainly MTV and its random lists of top MC’s in the game), the importance of materialism over lyricism in music, people placing importance on materialism to impress other people and media websites  importance of  placing content without substance by in order to get attention.

Kyle also interviewed Greenweedz after the show. Mr. Greenweedz attributed the success of the Shrine to his teammates at the club, saying that the Shrine helps keep hip hop alive. Greenweedz also reflected on the significance of hip-hop to him personally, saying he has been involved in hip hop for the majority of his life.

“You do little something old and do a little something new, and that’s what makes it fresh,” said Greenweedz when asked about what he expects from the Shrine in the years to come.

Origins of The Shrine

It was easy to observe the well worn, grooved floors of the Shrine when the lights came on at the end of everything Friday. If those floors could speak, they would tell stories of the thousands of feet that have stood, stomped and danced on its face for the past four years. It would attest of the various libations that have been spilled on them as well, the smoke that hovered above them. It would tell of the b-boys who have spun, footwork’ed and flipped off it. Those well worn floors speak to what the Shrine nightclub is at its core to many: a communal gathering place for all to come, regardless of race, creed or socioecomic background, to enjoy the sounds of live music.

The Shrine brings out artists that no other clubs or concert venues to Chicago have done or been able to or care to with regularity. It caters not only to the rap/hip-hop crowd, but also to lovers of Latin, funk, soul, house and reggae music lovers who have attended the nightspot from across the city, the nation and worldwide.

Over the years the luminaries from the many music genres the Shrine caters to that have stepped foot in the spot has included Common, The Roots, Jill Scott, Talib Kweli, Kindred and the Family Soul, Lupe Fiasco, Bilal, Nas, Jean Grae, Masta Ace, 9th Wonder, Drake, DJ Premier, Pete Rock and CL Smooth, EPMD, Rakim, Big Daddy Kane, Redman, Keith Murray, Ghostface, Raekwon, Sheek Louch, George Clinton, Roy Ayers, Eric Roberson, De La Soul and that is a very small sampling.

The Shrine is the creation of Joe Russo, former owner of Chicago’s SiniBar. Russo established the Shrine in 2009 after being inspired during a trip to Nigeria to visit the original Shrine nightclub, established by  Afrobeat pioneer Fela Kuti. Russo, in an interview around the Shrine’s third anniversary with Chicago Now blog, Move Your Body, said that “The Shrine was a concept where we would merge DJ culture with live music.”

One of my earliest experiences at the Shrine was watching soul legend Roy Ayers’ first performance there in 2009.

Ayers, supported by a live band, performed all of his classic hits including  “Searching” and “Running Away.” Towards the end of the performance, the Shrine staff brought out a cake with sparklers to celebrate Ayers’ 69th birthday, which set off the club’s fire alarm. After the fire department arrived to ensure there was no fire, Ayers continued his show. Since then, I have been to numerous shows at the Shrine and no matter who I have come to see, I have been left with a memorable experience. I look forward to seeing many more performances at the Shrine in the years to come.

Follow David on Twitter @davidevans9 and Regal Radio @regalradio1

One response to “Regal Night Out: The Shrine 4th Anniversary Party w/Large Professor & Lord Finesse (5/31/13)

  1. Fantastic article, real informative, the only bad part was that you mentioned Sheek Louch performed at the Shrine. That had to be a suck ass show!

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