eTc Tacoma x Upstream Music Fest 2018

The first weekend in June, Upstream Music Fest set Seattle's Pioneer Square Neighborhood abuzz with music, creative energy, and widespread excitement. Curious attendees roved the streets, exploring all there was to offer, from music experiences to community engagement.

While Friday's one day music conference called the 'Summit' was a priceless experience of equal parts knowledge & networking, it was clear that most were there for what was to come in the evening- the music. And they were definitely in for a treat.

On Friday, June 1st, 2018, eTc Tacoma made its mark on Seattle's Upstream Music Fest, delivering an oh-so-sweet taste of the West Coast with their carefully curated stage at Trinity Nightclub.

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First to take the stage was MistaDC. The Renton, Washington native is known for setting just the right vibe with his velvety vocals. He knows how to keep a crowd in reverie and it is no surprise. There is something about his special blend of r&b and soul that evokes serenity.

 Photo by  Zachary Fajardo.

A highlight of his set was the song The Most Beautiful Ride by Seattle producer Kyo-Ken, who assisted Mista DC on keys. He also performed at Trinity the following night on a stage curated by Milli Agency. Featuring vocals by MistaDC & a few slick bars from Oakland, California based artist Elujay, The Most Beautiful Ride is a prime example of a "feel good" song. So feel good in fact, that Nordstrom & Allbirds chose it for their commercial! *Salute*

The audience gleefully sang along to the fitting chorus, easily classified as a PNW anthem.

"I don't like to go outside when it's raining..."

Me neither MistaDC. Me neither.

Though still working on his debut solo album, MistaDC recently released a song called Vegas Girl with Fish Tank Friends' producer Jamie Blake. Check it out here. I'm keeping my fingers crossed and hoping for (another?) sneak peek of what he has in the works. Mark my words when I say you're going to want to keep an eye and both ears on MistaDC. 

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The next two performances offered up two hefty servings of the T.

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The first course was Tacoma native Aaron J. I first caught notice of him as a singer, but soon found out that his talents span way further than that. Also a producer, songwriter, rapper, & more, Aaron J. has no problems switching up the tempo. 

And that is exactly what he did at his Upstream set. Backed by a live band (Kai- Drums | Daym- Guitar | Antjaun- Keys), Aaron seamlessly switched from faster paced hits to more subdued singing roles, essentially putting a twist on the studio tracks we've heard from him. There's nothing quite like live music and the variation was welcomed, along with his high-energy stage presence.

Misundvrstood joined him onstage during his set, sharing her witty verses on a few of their collaborations, one being The WAV. The pair sounds great together and I have a feeling we'll be seeing more collaborations in the future.

After Aaron J's set, we were given 30 minutes to digest the first two performances. Music filtered into the venue and the crowd reacted, breaking into both conversation and dance as the next musicians transformed the stage.

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Our second taste of Tacoma came in the form of Blakk Soul, another multi-talented gentleman. The singer, engineer, songwriter, producer-extraordinaire serenaded us to the soulful sounds of Seattle band NSB, delivering an impressively smooth set laced with tracks from his latest EP Never See. I'm not claiming that I died and came back to life that night, but I'm pretty sure that my soul was dancing over Pioneer Square while my body did the same inside of the venue.

A longtime fan of R&B, I was instantly drawn to Blakk Soul's music. His delivery holds a warm nostalgia which ensures that when he sings, you listen. And you feel it... You really feel it.

I waited patiently for 9 months to hear Never See live and it was worth the wait without a doubt. As much as I love the fine tuned instrumentation on the studio album, I must say that seeing and hearing it in person made the whole experience even more magical. Not only did I feel the expression through Blakk Soul's vocals, but I also felt it through Noe & Gerson's strings, Scooter's keys, & Benji's percussion. I wish the whole performance was recorded and made into a live studio album. But until then, my shaky iPhone X footage (I couldn't stand still) will suffice. 

PS:I may or may not have shed a tear (or two) during one (or more) of Blakk Soul's songs that night.
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The next performers took us on a trip from WA to CA. Hailing from Los Angeles, OverDoz (Kent Jamz, Joon, J, & Cream) took the stage that night and put on the livest performance I've ever seen in my life. Period.

 PPS: It may be impossible to get a photo of Overdoz Mid-performance. They are too live.

PPS: It may be impossible to get a photo of Overdoz Mid-performance. They are too live.

Individually, their personalities shine past the stage and into the crowd. Collectively, they are excitingly energetic. And they aren't afraid to interact with the crowd either. I couldn't understand why Joon kept pointing somewhere to my right until suddenly, I was assisting him in a crowd surf... I also found myself on stage at one point. Through it all, I don't think I ever stopped dancing. The kept the crowd moving with their high intensity tunes.

Their setlist was diverse, featuring a mix of songs from the projects we've been blessed with over the years. We got a feel for it all, from older tracks like De$tabil (from 2013's mixtape Boom,) to newer hits like House Party from their latest album, 2008, (actually released in 2017.)

It is not a want. I NEED to see OverDoz perform live again before I leave this Earth. And I will.  Bet that.

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Closing out the delightful display that was eTc Tacoma x Upstream, Aramis took the stage, spinning catchy cuts and keeping all on the wave that the performances provided. The man is just as good on the camera as he is on the boards and uses multiple mediums to express himself creatively. Aramis is the right choice.

If my recap doesn't do the night justice, just know that I'm being modest when I say that eTc curated one of the most compelling and cohesive stages at Upstream this year. Their selections showcased their roots and provided a show that I and many others will remember for years to come. Not only did they offer hip hop, but we also took in some smooth soul, racy rap, and a few flicks of funk, all while staying close to home.

Not bad for their first year at Upstream, huh?

Press play below to hear music from the artists who graced the eTc stage at Upstream Music Fest 2018. And don't be shocked if you find a new fav. Just remember:

eTc Tacoma told ya.

-A/A