What’s Left: 92 Days. 45 Bands.
Band #55: LiLa
When/Where: June 2, 2011, Motorco Music Hall, Durham, NC
Expectations: I hadn’t heard much music from LiLa before the show, so my expectations were minimal. What I did know is that they’re quickly gaining steam in Durham as a somewhat DIY indie hip hop group. I was told before the show, though, that this was a rather candid performance. Not much of a formal showing from LiLa…so my expectations were low.
Concert: This show was put on in honor of a bartender’s birthday, so it was almost like a private showing that took place after several drinks at the bar. It was intimate and entertaining, though clearly somewhat unrehearsed and impromptu. LiLa, composed of frontmen Jon LeSueur and Eli McDuffie, brought out a somewhat full band that resembled a mix of hipsters in skinny jeans and striped shirts and bros wearing lax pinnies. The eclecticism struck me as just as appealing as the presence of electric guitar, acoustic guitar, drums, trombone, bass guitar, and vocals.
The music, I came to realize, is almost closer to punk-hop than straight up hip hop. The full band was reminiscent of The Roots, but the sound itself was closer to Beastie Boys than anything else. Nearly everything about vocalist Eli McDuffie’s performance embodied a sense of punk rock – from the rigid dance moves to the old school flow – the only difference seemed to be a lack of anger in his persona. I was perfectly okay with this. The only part I struggled with at first was the semi-awkwardness of Eli’s dance moves, but it was masked by his pure excitement to be on the stage performing. The moves make it seem as though Eli is dancing to every 16th note, almost like a bunny on steroids. It made me a bit uncomfortable at first, until I realized how much fun he was having and let myself allow him to revel in the moment. As time went on, I realized it married his personality perfectly. He’s a comedian who you may have to warm up to at first, but his jokes light up the stage and bring the whole band together. Probably the best one of the night, after tripping on the stage a little bit while reaching for his beer: “I accidentally tried to drink the microphone. …Whats up!”
LiLa played a wide range of songs, some of which started out and sounded like folk songs, only until they paused for a brief moment, the beat dropped, and Eli started spitting. Their sound is as eclectic as their appearance. Jon, aka J-La, is the lead singer and has an incredible voice. Together with the old-school rap flow and full band, their sound is large and memorable. I wouldn’t be surprised if this band made a significant mark on the North Carolina scene before too long.
Concert Afterglow: If a show with that much energy was a candid appearance, what does a real show look like?!?
Recommendation: Give LiLa some time to fully round out their sound, and they’ll become a known name in this state. Check them out – it’s entertaining.
Song: “Out With A Bang” – LiLa (Beautiful footage of Durham, NC!)