When I heard a couple of weeks ago that the All In Music Fest (slated to feature Lupe Fiasco, Bun B, Machine Gun Kelly, Lloyd, Luck One and Logics) had been cancelled, it took me all of two seconds to decide that I’d be making the short trek to Seattle for Fatal Lucciauno‘s “Respect” album release/birthday bash on February 17th. As crushed as I was that my fam would not be invading the Memorial Coliseum, I must admit that I was pumped to catch up with my dude and see him rock. The first time I saw Fatal perform, it was Spring of 2010 and we were in a random loading dock/basement for Victor Shade’s album release party. Despite being heavily intoxicated, I clearly recall that he stood on a crate in the middle of the dance floor and magically captivated the audience with his deliberate slow flow. Since then, I’ve been wanting to see the man’s stage show, but my plans have been famously foiled time and time again. I certainly wasn’t looking to ruin this opportunity.

So Friday afternoon, my ace Sonny and I elected not to drive and made the bus trip up to Seattle. Sonny was a little hesitant because he didn’t have time to get to the barber before we hit the road, but I talked him into letting it go. Really, we should have caught the train because let’s face it, the marginally higher price-point for catching Amtrak is totally worth the extra leg room, better smelling co-travelers, WiFi, and working electrical outlets. Plus the little punk behind the counter in Portland’s station got me so angry I had to laugh. His days as an employed man are numbered… You just wait and see. Anyway, shout out to the homie Janine for her hospitality. Thanks to her, we were promptly swooped from the Seattle Greyhound station by one of my wonderful Seattle peeps and we quickly began some pre-funking at the crib before the intentional leaking of my own music. (Thanks Twitter folk for finding me new followers!) Adequately buzzed, the three of us began our short walk through Seattle’s Capitol Hill to Chop Suey, the venue at which the party was going down. Always hungry, I had to check out Piecora’s Pizza across the street from the spot before going in. As a man who fancies himself a good judge of pizza, I recommend you check it out too if given the chance.

After the pizza pit stop, we finally hit Chop Suey around 10. Just before entering, a female friend says, “I heard the last time Fatal performed here, someone got shot.” My reply? “Eh… Things happen.” Everyone agreed, and we walked in. (I later found out that this is NOT what happened, but the rumor sure made things that much more interesting.) The homie Spac3man had said he’d walk us in, but I’m not patient enough to wait for text replies whilst standing out in the cold, so I just paid cover for the crew and hollered when we got in. I’m not poor, I have no problem supporting my folks, and it was well worth it anyway. Some of you should think about that for a moment… But let’s not get off on a tangent here. Anyway, it’s not uncommon to find local rap shows packed in Seattle, and this was certainly no disappointment. So many notable Seattle personalities were in the building that I didn’t even get a chance to say hi to most of them. DeVon and Jen from Sportn’ Life Records welcomed me right away, but quickly retreated to their artist when we saw the man of the hour making a determined rush towards the lounge area. A large crowd appeared, doors to that area were closed off and some of the less ratchet females in the venue got scared. I’d seen Seattle emcee The Good Sin on the way in hollering “APM!!” but somehow lost sight of his big-self once we got in the door. I did see his equally giant brother Sean Symphony – a talented singer in his own right – and asked him if everything was alright. His advice was, “Stay out of it.” Amen. The apprehensive mood only lasted a few minutes and was all but forgotten as the doors to the lounge area re-opened. Space found us in the crowd, somehow mentioned that he had his clippers backstage, and Sonny quickly disappeared with him to catch a quick bald fade.

I stayed on other side of the stage to mingle and watch the opening acts. A quick introduction to J. Moore, a head-nod to Grynch, plus a few Hennessy Neats and I was right in my zone. A couple of OK performances warmed the stage up before TH3RDS took the floor and showed out. I had no idea who these guys were but they sure seemed established and they certainly got it in. I learned from Dice that the group was made up of JFK, Xperience, and Candidt from the legendary Northwest hip-hop collective Ol’Dominion. That certainly explained a lot. One of their songs had a hook from Sonny Bonoho whom I’d never seen or heard before, but I’d certainly heard the name before and I find it utterly hilarious. Meanwhile, a minor commotion broke out near the backstage area and Space escorted some drunk guy out of the area. Chop Suey security seemed a bit shook and was definitely hands off. Sonny got a chance to meet Jake One and Vitamin D, but still did not have his hair cut. I found this amusing.

After a short intermission, Fatal was brought out to the stage and serenaded by his mother and sisters, each of them taking a turn at singing their own rendition of Happy Birthday. This seemed like a cute gesture until his sisters took turns belting out notes that nearly brought tears to the eyes of grown men. I soon realized that the mother of all of these musically gifted grown children is none other than Josephine Howell, the renowned Blues and Gospel singer. The ceremony was beautiful, powerful, amazing – but far from cute. Another short break and then the man of the hour, Fatal Lucciauno, took the stage and reminded me why I’d been so captivated by his live performance nearly 2 years ago. While he only stands about 5’5″, Fatal is a giant on stage. His songs are brutally honest, and his words carry an engaging depth. Most significantly, his emotional energy is crazy. Few artists are capable of emoting in such a way that even casual listeners can feel their pain, struggle and determination. Fatal seems to do that effortlessly, as if he were born primarily for this purpose. Having Spac3man as a hype-man didn’t hurt either, his frenetic energy added to the vibe as Fatal mercilessly ripped through tracks from his new project, “Respect” in his signature methodical yet lyrically dense style.

The rest if the night is blurry at best. I was about five “Neats” and a few beers in when Sean started hollering about vodka shots. There was some bar hopping that followed and Sonny claims there was some foolishness but I don’t remember so you’ll have to get the details from him… Good luck with that! Ha! So that’s another fun night on the books. Good music, good friends, good drinks, bad girls. Shouts to the Emerald City and Fatal Lucciauno for having us.

#APM #OutHereSEA

~Mac Smiff