When p.stoops took the stage on July 19, the crowd was sparse, either they hadn’t shown up to the Grog Shop yet or they were outside having a smoke, chatting up friends. p.stoops, also known as Patrick Stoops, hopped up onto the stage, dressed down in a Nintendo Duck Hunt shirt and khaki pants, spoke a bit hesitantly into the mic “Hi, I’m p.stoops. It’s great to be here opening for Sage Francis along with Johnny La Rock & Furface.”
Without wasting another moment, p.stoops hunched over his dove into his set of head-bopping, beat-driven electronic sounds off of his 2014 release Object Permanence that began to slowly lure the outside crowd into the venue. A known record digger, p.stoops rare vinyls that sampled exotic sounds that were reminiscent of a 1950s beach cabana party or, at times, a Bollywood extravaganza. Standing on stage in his own world, p.stoops showed off his turntablist talents, effortlessly juggling beats and scratching the vinyl along with the beat. Using his midi fighter that resembled an arcade game controller, he mixed sounds that flowed together while also choosing from a smorgasbord of controllers and knobs.
By the end of his performance, a larger crowd had formed, entranced by the sounds emanating from the stage. Although he had just one more song to throw down, the beats p.stoops had packed into his 30 minute set made an impression on the audience, who cheered for just one more.
Following p.stoops was electronic DJs and music producers, Johnny La Rock & Furface (JLRFF). Accompanied by Ottawa guitarist Will Hooper, the trio also put on an impressive set that showcased songs off of their recently released EP, Splittape. A vibrant technicolor video backdrop with the “JLRFF” logo lit up the stage as Furface kicked off the set, smoothly transitioning sounds through his launchpads and samplers. Johnny La Rock began his turn with a sound byte from the Johnny Carson show, “Here’s Johnny!”, stealthily moving his hands across his turntables. As Furface and Johnny La Rock took turns controlling the beat, Will Hooper stood in the center, playing guitar which complemented the duo’s beat mixing.
As a self-made artist, show headliner Sage Francis not only books his own shows and drives from city to city, he was also at the merch table selling t-shirts and music for his “Going Through Hell” tour. This carried on to the stage where Sage Francis elicited loud cheers as he launched into his one-man set draped in his homemade costume; a Strange Famous Records flag (his own record label) and hood that made him look like a high priest about to perform a Satanic ritual. Channeling LeBron, Sage Francis also performed his own stage stunts that included clapping his hands with powder to create a smoke filled haze as he stood with arms wide open and his head facing to the ceiling. With a single Macbook on a high bar table, Francis would press play for the next beat as words flew out of his mouth mellifluously, rapping songs from his extensive discography throughout the years.