Come Up Episode IV: A New Hope Recap

A shoutout to everyone who supported the show and made another unforgettable night with The Come Up IV: A New Hope.

Our opener  IPA (an acronym for band members Ian, Pablo, and Angelo) provided smooth hip hop inspired jazz music as well as great inventive improvisation. They created amazing renditions of hip hop and music that brought the crowd together.

After introductions and IPA’s performance, Co-hosts Riley and Isaiah discovered that the fish-netted lamp leg- a precious centerpiece to The Come Up stage- was missing! It turns out it was stolen by our neighbors and show rivals from Tournamentertainment, who host their own show the same time we do across the street. (They also donate to the National Association of Baby Seal Clubbing*). Isaiah ran across the street, lightsaber in hand, to face the culprits of this crime.

 

In the meantime, Riley continued on with the show, giving away lightsabers to those in the crowd who proved themselves worthy by answering lightsaber trivia.

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Cohost of Tournamentertainment and alt-right blogger* Adira Sharkey showed up with our precious leg lamp in hand that her show stole from our stage. Riley, believing the hatchet was buried, foolishly handed her a lightsaber. While Riley turned his attention to the crowd, like a good host, Adira literally stabbed him in the back. Adira slayed Riley in front of the younglings in the crowd. She then preceded to rant about her inferior show across the street.

We continued on with Ryan Sudhakaran, who had a hilarious bit that ranged from Americans appropriating cuisine, role playing with his girlfriend, and the modern dating scene for Indians.

 

Alan Frenz took the stage soon after to dominate with an amazing entertaining hip hop performance. It was the first rap group to come to the stage, replacing a DJ with a full band with guitars, keyboards, bass, guitar, and Al acting as the lead vocalist. The crowd and The Come Up crew loved the performance by the band.

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San Jose powerhouse Socorra gave a pure rock and roll performance with her immense vocals and equally impressive guitars. Socorra has been a supporter of The Come Up and she is part of a lot of great work in San Jose, including the SJ Songrwriters, which provides a space for songwriters to share their work.

IPA returned to stage with Come Up with Riley McShane to perform together, making the band Rye IPA (get it?). And after Riley exited the stage, IPA played us off into the warm Spring night.

It was a night with great beer provided by Uproar Brewing, warm weather, Star Wars music, lightsabers, more kids than usual, and great creatives both on and off stage. Thank you for Uproar Brewing, Exhibition District, and the artists for making such a great night. We will see you on May 17th, as well as the rest of the summer. Let’s keep making it happen.

*Some of the fact regarding that horrible show across the street have not yet been confirmed, but the statements are back by reputable people who definitely are not just Isaiah and Riley.

The Come Up Presents: SoFA Sessions

Hey all,

If you have ever checked out one our shows, you know that The Come Up shows are  musical and comedy showcases that take place at Uproar Brewing. We really enjoy the space for it’s atmosphere, the awesome staff, and it’s location in downtown.

 

However, we had an idea of showcasing music in a more intimate space. So we collaborated with SoFA Market, which is a local food hall and event venue with a bar and smaller restaurants within it. In the back patio there is a center, which is perfect for musical performances. We decided to work with their monthly musical showcase.

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The SoFA Sessions will begin Thursday April 19th from 5pm to 8pm and feature three different unique artists, specifically curated for their musical genre. This will be the first of an ongoing series of intimate shows that I am really excited about. It is a free show that is all ages and there will also be a $3 dollar menu items as well as $3 Kamikazes and select beer from the Fountainhead Bar.

See you there!

Outside your wheelhouse: An interview with Kiva Uhuru

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In the age of social media, people are developing their own personal brands. It is rare to find a musical artist’ without a Soundcloud, Bandcamp that showcases their talent. If you live in a city and frequently check out local music shows, someone is bound to show you their Soundcloud and Spotify. No matter how the music sounds, it’s exciting that people are willing to put themselves out there and share their music to strangers.

And having an online presence certainly helps when we are looking for artists to perform for our future shows.  But if when you’re trying to find out where to find great local music, the open mic scene in San Jose is another great way to meet amazing performers and artists. That is how I met Riley (The Come Up co founder), Meridian E and Marley Hale, (who both performed at our first show) and it is also where I met Kiva Uhuru, a multi talented performer who will perform at The Come Up 2 Electric Boogaloo later today.

Kiva Uhuru is a talented 20 year old guitarist and singer-songwriter who doesn’t have any recording works, except for some Youtube videos someone else posted of her performing. It is apparent her time and energy has been spent on building her craft rather than developing a brand around it. She has a strong soulful voice that has an aggressive presence even when she is crooning an R&B style song. And because she spends so much time performing live, she has developed an intelligence for playing for an audience and making unique events out of her showcases. When she is not performing, illustrating, or writing poetry, she is pursuing her education as a Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Major at The University of Berkeley.

Meanwhile I had to look up how to spell  enginerng  engineering. I’ve known Kiva for a few years. She even performed at one of The Come Up’s Sofa Session shows. So I had chance to talk to her about her craft, balancing work and school, and her plans for her music in a Q&A style interview.

 

The Come Up: What was growing up in San Jose like?
Kiva: It was so boring until I graduated high school. I didn’t see much of the city at all and pretty much split my time solely between school and home, which was in South San José. I was a part of the nerdy,  flamboyant misfit troupe most of my life: either loitering with other moody outcasts, or trying out radical ideas and personalities on-line. Graduating to the art scene on SoFA Street was both the obvious natural progression as well as a welcome shift in scenery.
The Come Up: What person(s) inspired you to pursue music?
Kiva: Honestly, the people who inspire me to pursue music are actually the people who tell me they enjoy my music and my sound. I would be playing music and performing at open mics for the rest of my able bodied life just because I enjoy it so much it’s almost compulsory. My favorite musical influences are to thank in part for sparking that desire, but the encouragement of others keeps me pushing for a bigger stage.
The Come Up: We recently interviewed one of our other performers Reign, who goes to an art school and is pursuing film. Being a high school student going to an art school, committing to music is within his wheelhouse. I was doing music and film in high school too. But you’re a Engineering student at Berkeley, which is famous for its rigorous academic coursework. How do you balance academics and your artistic endeavors, when they seem so juxtaposed?
Kiva: I think the most honest answer I can give is that there is no balance, it’s a lot of burning the candle at both ends, playing catch up, and hoping I land on my feet when I don’t practice either skill enough. However, just like Reign, I’ve been doing this since high school. The main difference is that the stakes are higher, and my enemy is not how different my interests are, it’s that there are only 24 hours in a day.
The Come Up: What’s the difference between the Berkeley music scene and San Jose’s?
Kiva: Not to knock Berkeley’s music scene, but since SF/Oakland/Berkeley are so close together, and arguably have fully articulated scenes with multiple very heavy hitters in every genre, from open mics to underground hip-hop to the DIY scene; the magnitude of options produce heavily fragmented microcosms that can feel really isolating. One has to work hard to be a known entity, and then break into each microcosm almost one by one. However, if you do befriend someone who’s been at it for a while, 100% or the time they will connect you to right people. It’s hard to navigate in the beginning when it’s hard to parse who’s in it for community and who’s in it just to be looked at for a moment.
On the contrary, San Jose is smaller but so much more open and accessible. If fact, with no business cards or spreadsheet of musical contacts and spotty attendance across the board, I feel like I may be one of the least community oriented of the frequent open mic-ers in San José (but I’m working on it.)
The Come Up: We originally met at Caffe Frascatti when you were performing an Open Mic. When and why did you begin performing open mics?
Kiva: A teacher at SJHS actually had me open for him at Frascati when I was a senior and after that I was sorta hooked. I really love performing, I love to jam with other musicians, I love coffee and being outside late at night. It was a no brainer.
The Come Up: You also busk as well right?
I do! It’s a great way to get rid of any lingering stage fright or other forms of being self conscious.
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The Come Up: It is unique and awesome that you are known more for your live performances. Is there a reason you focus more on live music?
Kiva: I have a fear (or distaste) of recording so deep it may have subconsciously contributed to ending my last relationship (he was a sound mixer/master/producer.) Beyond that I just enjoy the ephemerality of performance and feeling immersed in a moment with the audience.
The Come Up: You once did an improvised song at Cafe Stritch’s Go Go Gong Show where you made an amazing song out of words people said in the crowd. *Do you remember the words that came from the crowd that you used?
Kiva: I do not recall, especially since I’ve wheeled that party trick out a handful of times since. However, I do remember the contents of the song were absolutely foul and shan’t be repeated.
*(Full disclosure this was a leading question. I know exactly what that topics she sang about that night and out of respect for Kiva’s privacy I will keep it to myself.)
The Come Up: I guess that’s a skill you develop from performing live and busking. As you know, we have comedians who perform between musical acts during The Come Up. Do you have any interests in comedy?
Kiva: I do, I’ve been gaining speed as a comedian, much more slowly since it’s a secondary interest, and because it’ll become a lot more feasible after I turn 21.
The Come Up: Do you have plans on releasing any music in the future?
Kiva: My goal for 2018 is to have an album by 2019.
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The Come Up: What topics or subjects inspire your music?
Kiva: Heartbreak, self-doubt, desire. I like to take things that have happened to me and stitch them together with the thread of the common, cliché singer-songwriter themes.
The Come Up: Your musical style reminds me of Alabama Shakes, Hiatus Kaiyote, Hozier, and other soulful musicians who carry their music with raw, emotionally potent vocals and lyrics.
Kiva: Damn, thank you. Each of those artists are big influences.
The Come Up: What do you regularly listen to (or watch) that inspires your songwriting/composition?
Kiva: I read poetry, share stories by the campfire, and search for new music to cover to update my “toolbox” for writing my own songs. I’m mostly inspired by my own feelings and personal events, so I might watch a home video, have a little cry if I need to, and then start trying to pen something together.
The Come Up: I hated when people ask this question when I was a student. I still get this question and I still hate being asked it. So I’m going to ask you this question.
Kiva: I’m ready.
The Come Up: Okay fast forward to your senior year. You earn your degree. An engineering degree from one of the top schools in the country. Where do you go from there?
Kiva: I’m still considering moving to Ireland and working on music and film there, I just applied to a consulting accelerator, I might try to challenge Jeff Bezos for the throne in hand-to-hand combat over a waterfall. It’s really just about wherever the opportunities open up first.
The Come Up: You’re definitely an inspiration to me for your dedication to your studies and your many creative projects. What message do you have for young artists like yourself?
Kiva: First of all, thank you. In means a lot to me to know I inspire you, I can’t thank you enough for your support and for putting me on. Like I said earlier, part why I do this is because amazing, wonderful folks like you believe in me. To the young artists: never forget where you came from, practice humility, especially because you are asking to take up space, and use your singular, unique voice because it is your most abundant resource and simultaneously the most valuable.
The Come Up: Any advice for other artists who are also students?
Kiva: Do what you just to stay sane and to keep close to the whetstone, but don’t drop out. You’ve come too far to only come this far.
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Kiva will be performing tonight at The Come Up 2: Electric Boogaloo tonight March 2nd at Uproar Brewing at 9pm. You can catch her at open local mics in the Bay Area.
As always, all photography was done by the enigmatic Leopoldo Macaya.

Atmosphere and Identity: An Interview with Reign LaFreniere

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Every aspiring creative can relate to the importance of music and art as a constructive outlet for your emotions and ideas. A lot of artists begin to understand that in our adolescents. Because The Come Up is about building a platform for young artists, we wanted to conduct a interview about how young musicians use their music as an outlet.

Reign LaFreniere is an example of a young talented artist’ who has found a way to express ideas of loss, activism, and identity through music and film. At 18, he is already an accomplished musician and filmmaker. He is a student at an art school in San Francisco and commutes by Cal Train back and forth to the city. That where myself and Leopoldo Macaya, our resident photographer, met up with to discuss his craft and his vision.

Reign was born in Berkeley. In elementary and middle school he spent a lot of time at San Jose, where he still frequently performs open mics at The Poor House Bistro and Caffe Frascatti. San Jose is one of the few cities where he can showcase his talents and appreciates it because of it.

“I think it’s awesome,” Reign said when we asked him about his thoughts on the music scene “I think the whole community is awesome. Everybody helps everybody out. And everyone’s talented too.”

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Reign has been playing guitar since he was fourteen, and developed his craft studying the classics; The Beatles, Pink Floyd and other quintessential rock artists. He references Sam Cooke, Jimi Hendrix, and Ben Howard as some of his major influences. It is apparent he draws from classic and modern interpretations of rhythm blues, rock, and gospel music especially when it comes to his guitar playing. His crooning is akin to a more soulful gospel sound, which comes from his background in choirs. Rise Up is a notable example of his work that embodies both Hendrix style rock with a folk delivery style.

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Because LaFreniere plans to pursue film in college, we eventually began discussing his film works, his inspirations, and the connection to his music. Kubrick and The Coen Brothers were the immediate names he dropped for artist who inspire him. Whether it be Kubrick, or Hendrix, or Pink Floyd, all the artist he mentions as inspirations are famous for creating themes and motifs and enhancing their work by conveying emotion through atmosphere. Reign mentions that creating ambiance is a key to producing any content, whether it be music or film.

“I feel like atmosphere is really important in anything,” Reign says, when referring to his creative process “there’s got to be a certain vibe, you know, for an emotion to be drawn out.” It’s always impressive when an artist’ constructs an atmosphere to accompany their music. Even more impressive is that Reign recognizes its importance at such a young age. Reign pauses and starts admiring the tunnel we’re walking through near the Guadalupe River.

“But yeah, atmosphere is awesome” he laughs.

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LeFreniere’s use of aesthetics and atmosphere is a means of enhancing his emotionally potent lyricism. Originally, he sung political style folk songs, but he realized that was not his genuine voice. “There were dry,” he says about his early works “you could tell the heart wasn’t in it.” He was experimenting his with sound and if you listen through his discography, you can hear the folk influences. It was not until fairly recently that Reign began focusing the bulk of his time on music.

Shortly after Reign returned from a backpacking trip in Yosemite, the content which would make his feature film, the Ghost Ship fire occurred.

Ghost ship was a warehouse near the Fruitvale neighborhood in Oakland. It was converted into an artist collective and December 2nd in 2016, a house record label 100% Silk was hosting a show. During the house show, a fire broke out. Several were injured and 36 lives were lost in the deadliest fire in Oakland’s history and one of the deadliest events in the recent history of California. Reign’s friend was among the lives lost.

“The whole school was…everyone was traumatized after that and I decided to use music as an outlet for that. And then that’s how, that’s usually, where it [his music] comes from.”

The Ghost ship fire had a lasting impression on the Bay Area’s art community and the tragedy pushed Reign to explore his musical endeavors.

“SkyMan, that’s about him” Reign explains, referring to his song Sky Man off of his Taking Back Winter EP, which is about the friend he lost in the Ghost Ship fire. It’s beautifully done; the backing vocals and drums are sparse in the best way and his voice and guitar carry you through a young man navigating loss.

“these changes you want to see

and danger is at your feet

And he said, it’s going to be alright

I had hope once before, but it burned away

I have a friend who is no more

But he said it is going to be alright”

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LaFreniere mentions his hope of releasing a full album soon. In this year long time frame, he also will be graduating, starting film school and finishing the films he is working on this year. He mentions the pressure he puts on himself to create “I get angry with myself,” LaFreniere says, when he is not working towards his music or art. A feeling any artist can relate to. “My mom worries,” he says and the three of us can’t help but to laugh.

Our conversation led into a discussion on identity. Reign did a TED Talk where he discussed his issues with bullying and criticism when it deals with identity. “I struggled making whether I should make music I really want or music more appropriate for my race” the artist explains. Reign struggled with his music and identity, but its clear he has found his space and knows himself.

“There shouldn’t be boundaries when it comes to art” the artist says confidently “I personally believe the world is moving towards a more unified culture in general. I think we should start accepting that [rather] then fight it.”

In the midst of our social conversations on identity, music, the Internet, and the differences in our generations, he mentions that his generation seems more self-aware. He believes this self-awareness is  what motivates the recent student protests around mass shootings. Self-awareness is one of the most notable traits I picked up from this local musician.

He carries himself with an lucidity of his place in the world, and where that can lead him. He says he is not fit to be a politician or scientists “If I can use my art to get to a place where I can have a voice, then I can help the rest of the world.”

I can’t help to think of all the personal and social events happening to young artists’ right now and how that influences their state of minds and their visions for the future. It is apparent with young people like Reign, they are eager to have their voice heard. In the middle of these conversations, he laughs and says “I’m still trying to figure all of this out”

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Reign will be playing at the The Come Up 2: Electric Boogaloo this Friday March 2nd 9pm at Uproar brewing in San Jose, California. You can find his music here and his film work here.

*interview questions were conducted by Isaiah Wilson and Leopoldo Macaya. All photography was created by Leopoldo Macaya. You can find more of his work here.

Debut Come Up Posters

Hey people!

It’s Isaiah, one of The Come Up’s co-founders and the illustrator. So I will be posting the official poster for the second Come Up show pretty soon. But before I do that, I thought it’d be fun to post the previous posters for our last show. We had a total of four posters last time! Three were done by yours truly and the first main poster was created by young artists Virdiana Alcaraz.

 

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ICYMI: A Recap on the first Come Up show

Hello all. So we’re busy preparing for the second Come Up Show on March 2nd. Did you miss the first Come Up show? Well too bad, you will have to live with that regret for the rest of your life. Kidding (sort of) . But, if you’re curious about what went down during the first show, we wrote a recap of the events for those who couldn’t make it.

The debut Come Up show was last Friday at Uproar Brewing in the heart of The SoFA district in downtown San Jose. For our first show, we wanted to create a unique blend of both musical artists and comedy performances. We started off with Vudaje’s Mitchell Lujan, who performed three acoustic versions of songs off his Mood EP. His solo performance was a raw, stripped down take on his neo-soul project, but his smooth voice still carried that R&B feel that made his EP so vibrant. He was the perfect start to a show dedicated to local, young local artists.

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We followed Lujan’s act with comedian and Moth Story Slam Winner Omar Qureshi, who was fresh from performing at this years Sundance Film Festival. Qureshi provided great bits that ranged from eating phallic-shaped cookies to the NSA listening in on his phone calls.

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Meridian E took to the stage shortly after and shook things up in the best way possible. Also known as Pilot Red Sun, Meridian E is animator and music producer who has garnered a cult following with his strange MS Paint style animations and cartoons to accompany his ambient music production. His live performance enthralled the audience with his unique electronic sound that is akin to Aphex Twin.

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Off Key Comedy host Florentina Tanase offered hilarious takes on dating, adulthood, and being a comedian in the Bay Area. Singer-songwriter Marley HaleSinger-songwriter Marley Hale followed shortly after, where she provided a youthful take on the folk rock sound, similar to that of Angel Olson or Big Thief. Even though Hale is still a high school student, she put-on a polished performance, most of which came from her recent Skeletons EP.

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We took an intermission from the festivities for the co-founders to make a call to action. Isaiah Wilson gave a speech that encapsulated the goal of The Come Up; to believe in your creative vision and to uplift others in the art community to do the same. This followed with Riley McShane performing his aptly named single “San Jose” off his indie folk Places EP. Shelbi Evans, of BOC podcast, finished off comedy acts of the night which touched on great one-liners and even some commentary on the recent Me Too movement.

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Our headliner Craig White, seen as one of the hottest hip-hop artists in San Jose, took the stage and performed songs off his Born For This album. His stage presence, production and cadence embodies the bay area hip-hop scene and he left a strong impression on the crowd for the first Come Up show.

Once the performance ended, the rest of the night was filled with conversations, drinks, and people connecting about music, comedy, art, and their visions. We are all very grateful for Uproar Brewing who hosted us and all the artists who put on amazing performances. Ellina of Local Color and Exhibition District who believed in our vision and gave us the funding so we can pay our talented artists and make this little idea into one of the biggest shows of First Friday.

And whether you were there for the first show, there in spirit, or visiting this page for the first time, we wanted to thank you. Every show needs an audience and a community willing to come together and support it’s creatives. The second Come Up will be March 2nd, just around the corner. Cultures, scenes, and artists need a space and platform to let their vision a reality and a community to support it.

 

*All photography was taken by Leopoldo Macaya. You can find more of his brilliant visual works here.