Add It Up
One Foundation backs The 2bers in a live recording at 3rd Street Arts
Sure, others have done it. Still more have cobbled together the best snippets of an entire tour, grabbing great tracks over months of shows. Aside from a few bold performers willing to sweat in the pressure cooker that is a single-session live recording, that's the more common way to go.
But these guys are unconcerned. Mostly.
"We're used to that live element of anything goes, improv, whatever happens roll with it," drummer Joey Evans tells me. "The way you just put it, one straight shot ...,” his voice trails off for a beat, and I wonder if my question about whether how the band feels approaching this ambitious recording caused a temporary case of pre-show jitters.
But he rebounds. " ... That's where we are the strongest," he says. "We really wanted a solid product, and right now, our most solid product is what we do live together."
Collin Troy, one of The 2bers' emcees known as Eph'Sharpe, says he's always been a fan of live recordings—when they're done right. "Some of my favorite tapes are just bootlegs from shows." But hip-hop hasn't done as much with the live-record medium as other genres have, he says. "With hip-hop and studio production and how it works, it's geared toward not having a band. Live recording hasn't been an important element of the music to this point," he says.
Of course there are exceptions. The Roots, most notably, have put out heaps of live material, with the bulk of their sound outputted by a stellar live band. The 2bers are lucky in that respect, having formed a solid bond with One Foundation over more than two years of playing together. "We've been working toward this through performing consistently and always pushing ourselves to be better performers, to be precise on stage. It's been building for years now," Troy says.
A million and one things can go wrong with a live recording on the technical side, says Evans, and you don't have time to troubleshoot. Thankfully, Audio Excellence is sponsoring the performance and will be taking care of that end of things, he says, enabling the musicians to focus on the show. Because, as always, "when you're playing live, you've got to keep people happy or they'll leave."
Like Evans, Troy says he feels only enthusiasm, not stress, as date nears. "It's definitely exciting to know that errors and mistakes and everything from the wind in the trees and the memories from other shows are going to be there on tape."