Noise Pop 2018

Caleborate & Cash Campain — Sacramento’s Homecoming Kings

Holy Diver has been open since late last year, but I confess I had never stepped foot into the place until last week. Not because I have some sort of vendetta against Holy Diver, quite the contrary. Brett, Eric and Anthony are all amazing folks who have worked in the Sacramento music scene for years, so I more than trust them to put on a good show and run a well-curated space.

I hadn’t been back there for a couple of different reasons. Back in 2013, the original venue that resided in this well-worn space was called TownHouse. For so many of us in any part of the scene back then, TownHouse was a perfect melding. It brought together edm, hip hop, grunge, soul and any other genre you could think of under one roof, offering all of us at least one night a week for a little bit of a release. An escape. A safe haven nestled between the beats.

A home.
——–

At home is exactly where Caleborate and his older brother Cash Campain found themselves as they separately (and at one point, collectively) took the stage of Holy Diver for the Noise Pop 2018 satellite show. One of the many dates on The Real Person tour, this particular show held a special place in the hearts of the headliners of the tour.

Both are both born and bred Sacramento artists who now reside in the Bay Area. Both of them create music in different genres, with Caleb being hip hop and Cash being r&b, but another thing they both had in common on that night?

This show meant a little bit more to the both of them.

As I entered the green room, led through the roped-off doors by a young intern whose name I wish I recalled, I felt my mind flash to the same thought that I always think every time I enter one… They are NEVER what you expect them to be. In my mind, I always envision this sort of Greco-Roman debauchery where grapes are being fed to artists by half naked women with empty expressions on their faces.

In this instance, as with most backstage experiences I have, there were a bunch of dudes chit chatting about the most random shit that had nothing to do with music, while they drank tea and honey before the show.

Right. Not what you envisioned either, I bet.
——-
Holy Diver wasn’t what I envisioned exactly, although in fairness I don’t honestly know what I expected. Metal posters and cheesy homages to Dio hung on the shiny black walls, along with old show posters from eons ago with artists like The Deftones next to the words “$5 dollar entry”, reminding you just how far in the past these posters’ point of origin was. There is no shortage of history adorning the darkness. Including the picture in the corner by the downstairs hallway that I was doing my absolute best to avoid.

Dano.

In April of 2017, about 6 months before Holy Diver opened, Dano passed away. He was 37 years old.

Even though the space was no longer TownHouse. Even though it was no longer Grimey. Even though the floors no longer stuck to the soles of my shoes… If I closed my eyes hard enough, I could almost picture him tucked behind the DJ booth, with Bru Lei hyping the crowd, flowing over beats, and generally making the night compete. I could almost feel him tap me on the shoulder to see if I wanted to catch a smoke break between songs.

I could almost feel him.
——–
While I was in the green room, however, all I felt was bored. I stayed for about fifteen minutes before I made my way back out to the main floor. Cash Campain was coming on and he was 50% of the reason I had wanted to catch this show. I discovered his music a while back by way of my sis Zyah Belle, who recorded a song with him a while back. I had wanted to catch him live to see if the energy and more importantly, the voice matched up to what was on the record.

The live show he presented definitely did not disappoint! From his energy, to the fact that he started doing the Kid n Play dance with his DJ (for you young muthafuckas, Google that shit), it was a thirty minute set that definitely delivered. Although I admit the most amusing part of the night was when he brought some chick on stage to sing a Miguel cover of “Pussy is Mine” and she straight up ate a sandwich on stage during the song.

Apparently the pussy wasn’t his. Lol (ok jokes aside she was actually a friend of his, which probably explains why the broad brought a six inch turkey club on stage)

Despite the Subway sidetrack, that cover along with his originals created a bevy of new fans that will more than likely not bring hoagies with them on stage if the opportunity arises. The audience vibed out with him the entire set, and he had a wonderful way of disarming the crowd while simultaneously putting them at ease. Cash harkens back to a time in R&B where the lyrics were soulful. Classic. Timeless pieces of musical romance meant to put you in the mood, whether with a first time lover, part-time friend, or actual significant-other. Getting the chance to talk with him after the show briefly, you could feel he was an old soul. One who had been longing to come back to his hometown and let everyone share in the love and joy that he spreads while singing.

If you get the chance to check him out live, make sure to do it. Definitely worth the price of admission.
——–
Do it.
Just do it.
Just go over there.

I had that conversation on a loop in my head for about a solid 196 seconds before I took the slow, unsteady steps towards his picture. It wasn’t anything over the top. It wasn’t blown up to be life size, nor did it have any flashing lights or alter shrines below it. It was a simple and understated image of Dano doing what he did best — creating the vibes that make you feel like you’re right where you are supposed to be.

I reached out and brushed my fingers lightly against the glass.

“Hey Dano…” I whispered. I am sure if anyone was watching me they must have thought I was nuts, “I don’t know how much longer I can be here. I keep trying but… fuck this shit doesn’t feel the same anymore.” I could feel the tears starting to slowly and silently slide down my cheeks, but I took a deep breath and shook it off. Wiping them from my cheeks defiantly, I turned around to run back upstairs. I needed a drink.

I needed a drink and about four joints.
——–
Caleborate was coming on to the stage as I reached the top of the staircase. Within moments of him planting his feet, he pulled out a joint, looked into the audience for a few seconds (transmitting a well-known message to every stoner across the floor) and sparked that shit.

Hella folks followed suit, and it did not take long for the familiar smell of flowers and skunk to waft into the air and slowly soothe my senses. I pulled a blunt out of my bag and started to inhale. Meanwhile, as I was finally becoming calm, the rest of the audience was starting to reach a fevered pitch. They were more than excited to see Caleb take the stage, and as the fist song started, I absolutely understood why.

photo credit andre elliot

This muthafucka is good. Like HELLA good! His style is straight-forward but tinged with an old school aesthetic. Caleborate is a consummate story teller, a la Slick Rick or Kool G Rap, with a cadence and delivery that feels all his own. His newest album “Real Person” gives you songs that break down the true ass struggle that all of us have as a real ass human in today’s climate.

Love. Loss. Hurt. Anger. Pain. Tragedy. Unlike many artists now-a-days who try to mask their pain and create music that tries to convince folks how they shining, Caleb has no problem honoring who he is. Where he is in his life and where he came from.

photo credit andre Elliot

Sacramento.
——–
Sacramento never really felt the same after Dano passed, and the space that once was TownHouse didn’t feel the same either. The amazing music wasn’t winning over my melancholy.

I went to take a step towards the stairs to get some air when it happened. I don’t know if it was because it was raining outside, or if it was because folks were spilling drinks, or if it was Dano reminding me that he was still there.

Maybe it was all of the above….

… but my shoes stuck to the floor.

It made that familiar sound. Almost like velcro slowly ripping away from itself, a low, ugly skriiiiiiiiiiiich as the rubber sole met the whiskey-shellacked hardwood. In that moment, it all rushed through me. The love and memories from years of spending too much money and too much time in that place. The friends I made there. The moments.

The sticky ass floors.
——–
I stuck around until the last song, and then the encore. So did the entire audience. They stayed for signatures, and pictures and the chance to be able to tell Caleborate just what his music meant to him.

I stayed to thank them. To thank them for coming back to Sacramento and giving me another reminder of just how talented the people are that come out of this city. To thank him for showing me what it can feel like for an artist to have the true and unadulterated support of his own community. For an artist to KNOW their city has their back.

More importantly, I stayed to thank them for giving me a reason to come back to a place I used to feel at home in. Thank them for making this such an important homecoming.

I just never realized that this time, the homecoming was going to be his just as much as it was going to be mine…
——–
Thanks for reading guys. This one was actually really special for me too.

Take a listen to Caleb’s newest album, Real Person here:

Take a listen to Cash Campain’s newest album, Valley Hi (heyyyyyy Sacramento) here:

There is so much more that I have in store for you guys over the next few months. Until then, you know where to find me.

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Olivia Monahan

March 14th, 2018

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