Live Concert Review – Shiro Dame and Up Rock at the Dakota Jazz Club


By Becca Martin

When you write about music naturally artists will invite you to see them perform. Not a burden, but a problem that I confront is that I tend to unconsciously overbook my commitments. On January 17th 2014 I had THREE shows in the space of FIVE hours!

The evening commenced with cocktails at the Icehouse while a cellist performed. The next destination was Saint Paul’s beardy Turf Club to see Fathom Lane. After their final song it was back to Minneapolis to the Dakota Jazz Club to see Up Rock and Shiro Dame. I shed my boho sweater and made my entrance into the upscale club in slinky boots. (Yep, costume changes are part of the gig).

Upon arrival at the Dakota for the debut of Sarah White’s new band Shiro Dame I found the club quite full. Luckily, I scored a seat with people gracious enough to share a prime table right up front. During quick dash to the lav I ran into Miss White herself. Honestly, I would pay her to read stock quotes to me. Her luscious, buttery voice envelops in an almost narcotic way.

A brief chat, a quick pee, and time to settle in for the show. Big Zach introduced Shiro Dame to abundant applause. A new band with no album to promote had packed the Dakota~what a feat!

A Cleopatra like beauty combined with an innate sensuality not unlike a snake slithering across water, Miss White seemed lit from within. Her sultry smoothness suggests an old school Lauryn Hill, equally at home as a rapper or a crooner. White’s wet vocals are the sorts that make you want to stand up and sway with your eyes closed. The band revolved around her orbit-relaxed but focused. Shiro Dame seemed hungry and they had been hard at work on an album at Humans Win Studio. Their “neon soul” sound is unique in Minneapolis, perhaps stemming from the fact that Sarah had just recently moved back from Brooklyn. The band laid down an intricate and funky groove. The diverse and urban-hip crowd responded to the contagious urge to move. How refreshing to see such an uninhibited audience at the Dakota. Shiro Dame’s set ended to a thunderous eruption of applause. I clapped until my hands stung.

Up Rock, the hip-hop duo of Dundee and Digie followed Shiro Dame. Dundee and Digie were in the 1990’s band Abstract Pack, one the first nationally recognized hip-hop acts from MN. Digie and Dundee’s sound is reminiscent of an earlier era of hip-hop where artists like Run-DMC ruled. Up Rock excel in the loose and fun party mix. They clearly had a ball, onstage both men sported ear-to-ear grins. The audience was all in for the hip-hop vocal volleys and the various samples, including a tribute to Prince. An explosion of arms and legs flailing in time like a giant centipede ensued. I found the Prince jam to be the most problematic offering as it suffered a repetitive static-like drone and technical difficulties throughout. Up Rock closed the night at 1:59 A.M. with one minute to spare. Everywhere I turned it was evident that each and every person had collectively enjoyed the evening. I left feeling thoroughly satisfied at the spectrum of sounds I had heard that night, thank you very much.


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