A few months ago I saw a CraigsList ad for a nice Nikon camera listed at a decent price. The owner still had the camera and was able to meet so he told me to come over and look at it. Little did I know I would be meeting Mike Ep, the keyboardist for San Diego hip-hop band, The Concrete Project. After a few months and a few emails I got the chance to see them perform live at Winstons Beach Club in Ocean Beach, San Diego.
I first went to the group’s rehearsal prior to the show to see how they operate. The studio happened to be in the backyard of the house I had met Mike at earlier this summer. The group consists of CalebMCI and Tory-T on Vocals, Timmy Little on Bass, Mike Ep on Keys, Shaun Bro on Guitar and Cody Branin on Percussion. When I first arrived, the group was sitting around smoking cigarettes, drinking Miller Lites and talking about the latest NFL games.
The group went on to practice their entire set for the evening, giving me hints as to what their inspirations were to which they replied with bands like Coldplay and Dave Matthews. While loading the gear into the van, I was able to pry into what The Concrete Project is all about.
The band has been together for more than 8 years though it has gone through some different members during that span. Their song-writing process is a true open expression procedure, often starting from a single guitar riff then building from that. I could definitely tell it was a tight-knit group. Subsequential to talking about our favorite memes from the “Hotline Bling” video, the group was ready hit the road and head over to the venue.
After a quick car ride with the band, we made it to Winstons. It was an average size bar with cheap drinks. The place was pretty empty when we first arrived and the band began to do a sound check. Feeling hungry and having some time to kill, Tory and I went to get a few slices of pizza across the street. On the way, I began to realize the status of the groups shining MC, with passerbys beginning recognizing Tory. I was amazed by his friendliness, sincerity, and modest nature he had towards his friends and fans.
Three acts performed prior to The Concrete Project and you could feel the crowd grow with anticipation for the headlining act. After a quick argument with the sound guy about the volume level, the lights were lowered and the group began their set. The dance floor was full and the crowd seemed very excited for the performance. I could tell right from the start that The Concrete Project knew how to work well together and knew how to deliver the people something they could love. New sounds and new talents were really brought out in the performance. It only took two songs for Tory’s t-shirt to get drenched in sweat, but it didn’t seem to stop the MC from feeding the crowd. From Cody and Timmy laying down the harmonies to Mike and Shaun leading the melodies, you could tell this group was experienced when it came to performing on-stage. It was obvious that The Concrete Project was the superior group that night.
The show ended as a great success and all the members were stoked about the performance. What is to come for The Concrete Project is a little uncertain, but the group has plans to do a little rebranding, and after a short hiatus, I feel the group will come back stronger and better than ever.