Local hip-hop act CrazyHorse & Colston opened Bele Chere in style, with a set of songs that celebrated the South (and specifically, Asheville) with plenty of swagger. And lots of guests.
The only band representing hip-hop at this year’s festival, CrazyHorse & Colston brought members of Asheville’s Free Radio to the stage for an explosive collaboration. Free Radio’s Austin Haynes is especially inspiring to watch because of how he moves as he raps, as if his body and his words are completely connected in fluid motion.
CrazyHorse & Colston’s Max Hupertz and Bryan Godleski have a lot of onstage chemistry, too, like a long-term couple who finish each other’s sentences. Only the dude version of that. And, while their set was mostly light-hearted, CrazyHorse & Colston are never afraid to mix fun with moments of levity and introspection. “Out of Sand” is one of those songs — it starts out pretty heavy and dark, but listen closely and the message is truly transformative.
They brought the mood back up with “Keep Driving,” one of their hits. By hits, I mean, the song is totally contagious and everyone knows the words and there’s sort of a dance that goes with it. Hupertz’s father, John Hupertz, sat in on harmonica. That (the harp) in and of itself underscores how CrazyHorse & Colston are trailblazing their own style of hip-hop, a sub genre that is dirty-South without question, but it’s more country than urban and it pays homage to the musicians’ mountain heritage. “I ain’t fitting into jeans if they too tight,” they sing on “We Got That.”
Molly Kummerle of Paper Tiger sat in on “Artificial Intelligence,” a track she adds a rap to. It’s a velvety rich song, jazzy-smooth and thematically dark — a departure for Kummerle which she more than pulls off. That song is on CrazyHorse & Colston’s new album, Colston’s Cold Cuts.
The new material is thoughtful and full of stories and finely-produced beats, but the anthemic tracks from Backroads, like the heady “Cruise Control,” still prove to be crowd pleasers.