Once again, rapping reality-show regular Vanilla Ice is back with a brand-new invention. Ever since the gangster back story accompanying his 1990 debut, "To the Extreme," was revealed to be a sham, the Ice Man has been trying to remake himself. He reemerges every few years with a new album, a new look and a new musical style, but the Miami-bred artist seems to have finally found an image he can stick with.
Unfortunately, it already belongs to Fred Durst.
Fresh off of his win on the NBC musical comeback showcase, "Hit Me Baby One More Time," Ice got the crowd at Jaxx on Friday night to stop, collaborate and listen to newer, Limp Bizkit-inspired material along with nu-metal remixes of some of his old pop-rap songs.
With help from his DJ and drummer, Ice (aka Robert Van Winkle) gave his mega-hit, "Ice Ice Baby," a rap-core treatment, with gruff screams replacing the smooth delivery of the original. Songs performed from his upcoming album, "Platinum Underground," included "Bounce" and "Ninja Rap 2," the sequel to the rhyme Ice lent to the soundtrack of the 1991 film "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: Secret of the Ooze."
Although his lyrical skills are still unremarkable, Ice does give an entertaining, energetic stage show. He sprayed fans with ice water, encouraged them to chant "Go, white boy, go!" and surrendered the spotlight for a lengthy open-mike freestyle session.
Nothing will ever fully erase Vanilla Ice's past, but with every tattoo, motocross race and Jagermeister shot, he backs away from his reputation as hip-hop's oldest joke -- and perhaps inches toward becoming rock's newest one.
-- Sarah Godfrey
Visit the Web site of Thievery Corporation's ESL Music and you'll find a remarkable (and accurate) slew of descriptors for the D.C. duo's creations: breakbeat, ragga, bossa nova, dub, pyschedelica, down-tempo. But a more impressive gauge of the swath Rob Garza and Eric Hilton cut might have been the three-consecutive 9:30 club sellouts they pulled off over the weekend, which climaxed with a nearly three-hour Saturday night blowout that was part concert, part homecoming bash and all sprawling groove.
Hilton and Garza (on bass and keyboards, respectively) began with the title theme from their newest record, "The Cosmic Game," but soon took positions above a fortress of electronics and a band that swelled to seven pieces. The live players were the canvas for the beats and flourishes the main duo dropped, rolling through a judicious mix of "Cosmic Game" and a few choice back-catalogue tracks.
Still mainly noted for their recording work -- they even manage to make Perry Farrell sound soulful on their new disc, no small trick -- Saturday's gig revealed Thievery's live show to be fully evolved. It was a worldbeat stampede showcasing a masterfully paced, revolving wheel of singers including Sista Pat, Gunjan and dancehall ace Sleepy Wonder. And though the jammed main floor bubbled all night, the best moments came when the beats were more percolating than chilly: the churning "Sol Tapado," a pulsating ".38.45" and an unhinged jam on "Warning Shots." By the time an encore of "Marching the Hate Machines" filled the air, it was clear the three-night stand was not only an all-fronts triumph, but one the Corporation could probably pull it off once a month if it wanted to.
-- Patrick Foster
At Fort Dupont Park Saturday night, a large crowd turned out to see the Dramatics turn back the clock to the glory days of early '70s romantic soul. Frustratingly, the current incarnation of this Detroit outfit, led by original member Ron Banks and longtime participant L.J. Reynolds, re-created that magical time only intermittently in their one-hour set.
Backed by a potent band, the four vocalists inexplicably cut songs short, awkwardly blended tunes from different eras, and wasted time with cliched imitations of R&B greats. Opening with "Hey You! Get Off of My Mountain," and "What You See Is What You Get," they quickly showed they could still tenderly warble gospel-derived harmonies and deliver stylish, hand-twirling choreography.
Dressed in black tuxes with white vests and black silk shirts, they certainly looked the part. But they raced through these numbers, and soon moved on to offering a lukewarm attempt at rapping Snoop Dogg's portion of their collaboration "Doggy Dogg World," and a tasteless rendition of a conversation between comedians Bernie Mac and Cedric the Entertainer.
Midway through the set the group seemed about regain its footing. Psychedelic soul synth bleeps, cinematic horn bursts and melancholy, deliberate rhythms sonically announced the beginning of the Dramatics' biggest hit, "In the Rain."
While the original recording of this tale of a heartbroken guy who goes outside to hide his tears took more than five minutes, they again shortened the drama. The rest of the show followed the same pattern.
While the Dramatics touched on much of their catalogue, they never slowed down enough to recapture the ardent slow-dance charm their songs once possessed.
-- Steve Kiviat
K2 Dance Company
Breaking up is hard to do. Katrina Toews, a District-based choreographer and director of the young K2 Dance Company, alludes to breakups, makeups and relationship mess-ups in her 50-minute multimedia presentation, "I Will Leave Your Things on the Front Porch," which premiered at Dance Place on Saturday. The seven contributing dancers, featured onstage and in reality-TV-like video interviews shot by Keira Hart, joined Toews to work through the physically and emotionally wrenching aftereffects of heartbreak.
Toews placed the evening's trajectory along psychiatrist Elisabeth Kubler-Ross's five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. But choreographically her movement choices meandered into the mundane: dancers bending over and rolling up like rag dolls and a slight, off-kilter shrug performed with blank-eyed stares, for example. Later, a series of interchanging partner duets featured an anti-tango danced mostly seated, and rolling on the floor with uncharacteristic floppiness as a bandoneon played. Other moments experimented with balance and equilibrium as pairs walked an imaginary tightrope.
Toews has often shown a knack for ending works, and this one was no exception. As the churchly choral strains of Morten Lauridsen's "O Magnum Mysterium" played, two women came together to connect and console. As they cautiously reached toward embrace, the lights dimmed.
"I Will Leave . . . " was an ambitious program for Toews, but given its focus on male-female relationships, she could have used more than one man in her troupe. Her message and her approach to love and relationships skew young, and come straight from the heart.
-- Lisa Traiger