Night Lights Weekend Wrapup May 19-22

If ever a weekend has made me aware of the kinds of great music we have available on the Island, it was this one. Sure, I’ve said it before, but every weekend like this last expands my horizons and makes me so glad I live here. Some weekends are Island music, rock or electronica… this weekend was house, funky house, progressive trance and hip-hop.

It started with DJ Keoki performing at SoHo, an event that made me sit back and reflect a little. While more people on the Island might remember Keoki as a Hawaii boy, or know him as Miko and Maleko’s brother, it seems like the significance that his name has among house-heads on the Mainland is lost on us for the most part.

The last time Keoki was here was in May of last year, he played at Loft Gallery & Lounge to a pretty small crowd. Cameron Peppers, who at that time had just moved over from Ohio and launched with Adam Smith and Shawn Alden, was floored that so little fanfare was being made about someone so big in the house music scene. He met Keoki, I introduced him to Miko, who he promised to work with, and he said, “I’m home. This is my scene.”

Flash forward a year, and Cameron is the main in-house promoter for SoHo Mixed Media Bar, bringing in some world-class names in house music to his weekly 18+ Thursday night, Tap That Thursdays, including DJ Keoki, who attracted a significantly larger crowd this time around. I saw some older house-heads that I haven’t seen in quite some time, and a few people I never knew liked electronic music. Also, I thoroughly enjoyed Keoki’s set, a mix of some older stuff that made me smile (Prodigy samples, anyone?) and new stuff that sounded great. I walked away with a sense of exhilaration, and not a little bit of nostalgia. Got pics? Yeah, I got pics.

DJ Keoki @ SoHo

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Friday, the first thing I hit up was the launch of my girl Shawna Cook’s (Starla Biz) new handbag line at Lotus Downtown. I’ve known Shawna since she was a server at NextDoor several years ago. Small world, eh? In a collaboration with Beak 03 (the street artist), she’s been making these amazing street art designs on repurposed and resewn handbags. For some examples of the work she and Beak are doing, check out

While the fashion show was incredibly awkward due to lack of space in the back of Lotus (they should have just walked the length of the bar), I got a few good pics of the show, the art featured on the walls, and the people there:

Starla Biz Birds in the City

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I ended the night at thirtyninehotel for Soulgasm, hanging out with some of the best dancers in the nation. In case you didn’t get the memo, last week was National Dance Week, and there were pro dancers from New York, Detroit, and all over the nation in town doing workshops and shows. Ejoe, who’s danced for Mariah Carey, Will Smith and STOMP, has been a house dance pioneer for decades and helped found Soulgasm Manhattan. As a dancer, DJ and all-around cool human being, he blew me away. After an amazing dance set, he circulated, all sweaty and out of breath, hugging people and introducing himself to his new fans, which was pretty much everyone in the house.

Ejoe’s House

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Saturday, I was reading the Honolulu Weekly, and the word “Steampunk” caught my eye. Yes, I’ve been rather obsessed lately with learning all I can about the up-and-coming Steampunk subculture that’s rapidly growing on the Mainland and, to a lesser extent, being talked about in Hawaii. A neo-steampunk show by a brand-new arts, music and literature organization in Fresh Cafe? Hmmm. Curious, I went by to check it out. Turns out it didn’t have much to do with Steampunk, but I did find some pretty cool stuff going on.

Guardians of Arts and Music Foundation is a brand-new (they haven’t even gotten their nonprofit status) group with big ambitions that one day include opening an institute for disadvantaged young people gifted in art and music. Founders Leni Knight, Gary McGee and Josh Duhaylonsod held what was essentially a launch party for the foundation Saturday, with a slam poet, musicians and a silent auction to benefit Hale Kipa, a local nonprofit to help at-risk youth.

Here’s a few photos of the proceedings:

Guardians of Arts and Music Foundation

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Guardians of Arts and Music Foundation founders (from left) Gary McGee, Leni Knight and Josh Duhaylonsod.

After that, I headed to Downbeat Diner for dinner, where I got a chance to try their vegan chicken wings, which look exactly like little drumsticks, but with actual sticks instead of bones in the middle. If you like buffalo wings, you’ll probably like these. No pictures because I’m lazy… I’ll take one next time, promise.

Then I headed down to The Waterfront to check out Tritonal, a progressive trance group performing with live vocalist Cristina Soto, brought down by EDM promotions group PURE Coalition. I’d heard a few of Tritonal’s songs and really good things about them, and it was another one of those concerts that some of my house-head friends said not to miss. I was a little worried about getting access, but turns out they handed me a media pass as soon as I walked up to the gate. Oh, thanks guys!

Since high school, when I discovered artists like Robert Miles, Orbital and Tiesto, I’ve had a soft spot in my heart for the beauty of trance music. The show was amazing, and right now I’m listening to Tritonal’s new album, Piercing the Quiet, which I’d recommend for anyone who appreciates trance, or just needs some beautiful music in their lives.

The artists were really cool, laid-back people too, and graciously let me hop up on stage and take their picture while they were hanging out before their set. Here’s that photo and more:

Tritonal w Cristina Soto

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One more stop… I ended the night at Oceans 808, where my girl KC Lyn was celebrating the release of her first album, “Dynamic,” which will be on Amazon, iTunes and out in physical form in about a week.

I first heard about KC in January of this year, when my friend Jin, a b-boy with the 808 Breakers, called me up to pitch her. I did an interview and was pleasantly surprised.

She may not be the most well-known talent on the Island, preferring to hole up and work on her album rather than perform at shows around town, but beyond the novelty of a white girl rapping is her unmistakeable talent and presence. So even though I had to hang out until 2 am to watch her (I start getting grumpy if I’m still at a club after 1:15 am these days… because I’m getting old and I just want to go eat somewhere before all the tables are taken, damn it), I didn’t really mind. I wanted to be there, and just in case this girl gets famous one day, I’ll proudly say I was :-)

KC Lyn’s Album Release Party @ Oceans

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Also, some time during Saturday, the beginning of the end of the world happened, according to Harold Camping … or maybe it didn’t. Camping has become somewhat of a meme over the last few weeks, for both his doomsday predictions and the sheer amount of money he’s managed to finagle out of his followers to spread the word. Although, as some people have brought up, it’s possible that he mixed up his quantum realities and, while we seem to be alive and well, the world ended in one of the infinite other realities that make up the Multiverse. A too-easy sellout? You decide.

Sneak preview for this week:

The last Acid Wash 80s Night at SoHo. While Wednesday marks the last night that the legendary Acid Wash Wednesdays will be held at SoHo, Vegas Mike, co-founder and promoter of the night for 5+ years now, has indicated that Acid Wash itself isn’t ending. Keep your eyes open for a new venue, and possibly a new format for the night.

Also, Citizen Cope and the Na Hoku Hanohano Awards are this Thursday, indie/electronica band Menomena performs at NextDoor Friday, and another one of CWSK’s legendary pool parties at The Marriott kicks off Sunday afternoon.
See you around!