Tempest in a nightclub
Stormy weather: It was a lil’ wet last weekend. But last Friday, before the really bad weather hit, rapper Lil Wet was dousing the bump-and-grind crowd at Blue Lamp with a storm of lyrics fierce enough to make the Beyhive stomp.
Wet is an Oakland-based rapper who stands barely over 5 feet tall. Her big hair is wider than her waist and her lips are a well-glossed fuchsia. Dressed in all black except for a monstrous Louis Vuitton belt buckle, which is gold, she’d almost disappear on a dark club stage. But Wet labels herself a poet, and like most in that trade, the words that come out of her are a tempest you wouldn’t expect based on first impressions.
“Niggas brought them lil’ 22s to a chopper fight … slingin’ shots through your headrest … these shots hit yo ass, eat yo body like lunch,” she raps in her first hit, “Problems.”
“I fell in love with poetry in elementary school,” Wet explained earlier in the night over a tuxedo mocha before sound check. Previously, she worked as a newspaper journalist in San Francisco before taking the leap to launch a rap career five years ago.
“I write about what I see on an everyday basis,” she said now.
“Wet could be up there with Nicki Minaj,” said her soon-to-be producer Rob Ford, of the Sacramento-based Black Market Records. His goal is a gig a month for 2017, starting with another locally in February, then the Bay Area and hopefully Atlanta by 2018.
Sacramento has always shown the artist a lot of love. Here, Wet is a lightning rod of sorts for a crowd ready to push boundaries. She smiled sweetly and then jabbed hard at the male- and country-dominated scene we have here.
“You can’t sleep on me,” she said.
Station to station: The 1940s Washington Firehouse in West Sacramento recently got a makeover (317 Third Street in West Sacramento). A new Burgers and Brew outlet just opened on the lower level, and on weekends, Station 1, a hip new club, plays lively jazz upstairs. Upon entering, reminders of the building’s history greet you, including a large fire truck on the front patio and the glow of fire burning from the top of the patio wall—I’m guessing that wasn’t part of the original building.
Inside, the old timey decor makes an impression. “It’s a speakeasy bar!” I heard one girl in her 20s yell upon first entering the club. Her voice was barely audible thanks to a solid performance by Jay DeWald and Jazz Artistry, who played sounds inspired by ’50s West Coast cool jazz, a calmer version of the frenetic bebop style. The five-piece ensemble featured a piano, sax, trumpet, upright bass and drums. Occasionally, the versatile sax player switched to a flute, which kicked the tunes up a notch.
The show attracted an unlikely audience: Young, dressed-up 20-somethings chattered beside 60-something folks—the latter jazz fans, I presume, as they were the ones primarily paying attention to the band, snapping their fingers in time.
Live music is only scheduled for Friday and Saturday nights and the club is open from 7:30 p.m. to midnight, leaving a short window of time to get your jazz on. If the fliers on the wall are to be believed, Station 1 has hosted some impressive shows: Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday and Ray Charles. Or maybe it really is an old-timey bar.
Though if it was actually Prohibition-era, no one in Station 1 dressed the part, besides the staff. The waitresses all wore short black dresses. The bartenders wore suspenders, and stylish razor-thin ties. Martinis were served in copper glasses, and cocktails were mixed with what looked like a large novelty match. The best little detail was the old, weathered 7-Up crates that held the condiments and fruit. The drinks were a little steep for my blood: I paid $8 for a 16-ounce Sculpin IPA and cocktails were priced at $11. Overall, though, it was a fun vibe, and a great place to hear live music. It’s busy, too. The parking lot was so full I had to park two blocks away.