By: Jason Alamo (drummer from the band St. Bagu)
There are few moments in life where everything slows down around you and you begin to wonder how exactly you ended up at that moment. As the drummer for St.Bagu and Hip Hop ChicaGO I have the advantage of seeing the performances from a unique point of view. It is as if I am part audience, part performer. While dancers spin in circles and emcees run to rile up crowds on different sides of the stage, I am stationary and have a complete 180 degree view of the performance and the audience simultaneously. I spent the whole set at last night’s music showcase on the Shanghai World Expo’s Americas Square stage frozen in time, trying to break down all the things that fell into place to bring this amazing group of people together. Never in my life did I think I would be in a band and share a stage with 8 breakdancers, an MC, and a DJ and ROCK a crowd halfway around the world.
Yesterday almost seemed effortless. I say almost because after the music showcase we began the next showcase with the complete Hip Hop ChicaGO crew. The crowd was warmed up and ready to see some great dancing. Everything was going well until we hit a snag when the DJ’s mixer went out. People were scrambling back and forth trying to figure out how to compensate. The band was ready to go and fill in wherever necessary. Luckily the mixer came back to life and we were able to keep the damage minimal. The Hip Hop ChicaGO crew came together and was able to put on yet another great performance. All the b-boys and b-girl were awesome. We all had a feeling it was going to be a special day.
We woke up yesterday morning to Ambrose on the front page of the Shanghai Daily. Hip Hop ChicaGO in Chinese newspapers overnight? Time freeze moment. It got better after that. After a few hours of shopping at one of the local markets, Tony, Freddy, and I took the train back to our hotel. As we exited Freddy looked up at one of the TVs playing the local news and shouted, “That’s us!!” Hip Hop ChicaGO was on the local Chinese news station? Time freeze moment.
Being a drummer has its perks. When you get good enough you’re able to turn on the auto pilot switch. That’s the moment when you’re able to play so focused that you no longer have to think about what you’re playing. You can just feel it. This is where I soaked it all in as we played the outro during the last show here in Shanghai. As the band started the music, DJ N.VS began scratching over the top, the emcees started spitting their verses, and the dancers took their turns breaking to the track. The lights flashed as the crowd roared. Time freeze moment.
The show is over. I called Freddy’s attention to get a stack of CDs that we brought for the trip. I headed to one side of the stage and handed out about three CDs before the crowd caught on and rushed me for the stack that was in my hand. I was literally almost yanked off the stage. Starting a mini-riot to get some St. Bagu CDs? Time freeze moment.
I got backstage to the dressing room and told the guys that all the CDs were gone in seconds and how I almost lost my life. Yuchia came in to let us know there were some carts to help with the music equipment back to the bus. Then she said, “St. Bagu, there is a request for autographs.” Huh? Autographs? I’m standing next to my band mates signing CDs, passports, and visas and taking pictures with fans. Time freeze moment.
However, this time was different because time never really stops. When reality kicked in again it was no longer time to think about how we got here. Instead it was time to think about where we are off to next. Time to leave Shanghai, and on the bus ride back to the hotel I begin thinking about the lyrics to one of the tracks arranged by Rico called “Peace and Blessings.” The chorus begins, “I ain’t got no limits…” Time freeze moment.