Surrey Fusion Festival shows promise

k-os headlines celebration of music, food and culture.

By Sasha Mann
[media editor]

There are disadvantages to a free outdoor show. For one, not everyone can tell the headliners apart from the roadies.

k-os spicing things up at Surrey Fusion Festival. (Sasha Mann/The Runner)

“Is that k-os?” asked someone in the crowd, as a bearded, middle-aged roadie stepped onstage.

“No, it’s not,” a friend whispered back. “I know what k-os looks like.”

The Surrey Fusion Festival is an annual event that bills itself as a “celebration of music, food and culture.” Put on by the city of Surrey, this years festival, which took place on July 20 and 21, was the sixth Fusion Fest.

The culture aspect was illustrated through pavilions representing 30 different nations. The choice of countries is interesting and hints at a progressive inclusivity beyond the usual Canuck attempts at multiculturalism.

Palestine had a tent. Israel didn’t. There was also an Aboriginal pavilion and a Métis tent, selling “Keeping it Riel” shirts.

Stephen Harper would have felt uncomfortable.

Countries that Canada has waged war on were well represented as well: Afghani food and Haitian jewellery were sold to many a festival-goer.

For the musical aspect of the fest, there were three stages to choose from. One stage played folk music, another played reggae, and the main-stage closed Saturday night out with hip hop.

Local rapper Kyprios performed an earnest, but altogether unexciting set with a live band. The band settled on a mix of pop, rock and reggae to back Kyprios up. It was fusion alright, but not in a good way.

The only memorable moment was a medley of old-school rap classics: “Juicy” by The Notorious B.I.G., “Shimmy Shimmy Ya” by Old Dirty Bastard, and “Rebirth Of Slick” by the underrated Digable Planets. But even when performing these classic tracks, Kyprios lacked the grit and soul that great hip hop requires.

Final headliner k-os was much more engaging. Taking the stage almost an hour after he was scheduled to, k-os made his apology with a dynamic show.

Some elements didn’t quite work: His rapping over Saukrates’ pre-recorded verse on “I Wish I Knew Natalie Portman” came off like drunk karaoke.

However, other songs worked fantastically. A ferocious take on “Emcee Murda” reminded the audience why k-os was such an exciting force in rap when he first blew up in 2004.

k-os — much more-so than Kyprios — is exactly the type of artist that belongs at Surrey Fusion Festival. His music is genuinely eclectic: a raw and imperfect, but totally authentic take on diversity.

 

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