Luminaries’ vibes of consciousness illuminate the Green Room
BY DANIEL DAW —
Consciousness and activism were alive at the Green Room, with hot beats and soulful rhymes taking the venue by force. While their name sounded much like today’s chart-topping band, The Lumineers, there was no mistaking this 3-piece rap group — Luminaries — for anything other than rap with a cause.
Local band Dub and Jefferson Washington opened up for Luminaries in the early moments of the show. The group’s sound was a pleasant mix of old bluesy rock and hip-hop, creating an air of excitement in the room. Washington’s guitar and vocals blended well with the Dub Jerry’s raps. The set got the crowd excited with impressive dance moves from some.
Based out of Venice Beach, Calif., Luminaries style comes from a background of social service and brings their talents and use them to help others and find a power in doing so.
Following a strong set from Dub and Washington, the Luminaries took to the stage for a set full of energy and excitement. The trio is best described as conscious hip-hop fused with electronic with pieces of rock, reggae and some funk elements. The conscious factor comes into play in the lyrics of the songs, with many in this sub-genre having political undertones and often acts as social commentary.
Their beats were strong and energetic, and the three vocalists Javis “J Brave” Huggins, Felix “Free Will Luminous” Harris Jr. and Chris “Amore One” Devcich melded together perfectly. All three performers were completely in synch with each other, the backing beat and the audience.
During the set, a select few in the crowd danced with the most energy and skill, and at one point they brought out hula-hoops and other props that illuminated the dance floor. Both Jennifer Knott and Josiah Fleishman explained that their dancing is a way to unwind.
“My hoops live in my car. They go everywhere; if I need to unwind at work [or] a lunch break — hoops are in the car,” Knott said. “It’s like a center balance, that spinning. [It] just centers you.”
Fleishman echoed Knott’s sentiments.
“Dancing and hooping, juggling and you know all of this is a very spiritual experience for me, so any excuse I could find [I will go],” Fleishman said.
The substance of the songs was unexpected but a welcome surprise. There was a certain purpose to what the songs meant. “Free Energy” one of the strongest songs urged the following of Nikola Tesla’s theories regarding energy and how, according to the song, the U.S. government is hiding nearly 5,000 patents. “Be The Change” is based on the ideas and philosophies of Mahatma Gandhi, who famously said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world” and preached non-violence.
Different from many rap groups, Luminaries has a background in activism, which largely influences what songs they write and how they perform.
“We’re basically social service workers on the microphone — we all do something, we’re artists in action not just emcees just talking about it. Javis has been working with youth for a number of years now, Chris is an activist, like standing on the front lines, the Occupy Movement, the South Central Farm movement,” Harris Jr. said. “I met Javis when we were playing basketball somewhere, kind of started out we made a deal to trade service and music and find a way to blend it and then all of these things started happening. It’s helping kids and helping people, it’s the same thing [but] we’re doing it with music.”
The group had the opportunity to travel around the world, sharing their message. In 2011, they traveled through the Middle East performing, most notably Palestine and Israel, and in 2012 Luminaries traveled to perform at the Bali Spirit Festival in Ubud, Indonesia. Traveling abroad gave the group a new perspective and inspiration.
“I think going anywhere in the world and feeling people’s energy and connecting with them on the most humble level . . . like some people [are] in a tough situation, like Palestine. [It’s] really challenging out there, being in that type of unrest and injustice and suppression, and to see that it helps to fuel the fire [for] what we do,” Huggins said. “That’s definitely changed who we are for sure in every way.”
The trip abroad also informed the performers about the Palestine-Israeli conflict, and according to Devcich, the people contrasted the medias portrayal.
“It changed my life overall; it changed my perspective because I heard a lot about — like for example the Palestine-Israel situation. I heard a lot about it second hand but I’d never directly experienced it so it was so beautiful being in Palestine. We didn’t experience any ill will or any kind of negative sentiment from anybody over there, which is so contrary to what is pushed through the media,” Devcich said. “People were beautiful there; people were beautiful in Israel. I do feel like Palestine is an open-air prison, an occupied country. If anything, I tried to go in there objective and not take a side.”
Luminaries are currently on tour and expect to be touring for much of this year and foresee a second album on the horizon.