Saturday I was looking to get my live music fix, and I got wind of a show at The Chuggin’ Monk in Arlington. A band out of Tulsa called Risk on Da Disk was playing, and it billed itself as playing a combo of reggae, hip-hop and blues. These are a few of my favorite things.
The members of Risk on Da Disk are vocalist Wesley Childers; his father, Michael Childers, on guitar; his uncle Mark Hood on guitar; and his childhood friend Trey Neely on drums.
When I got to the venue, I made my way through the pool hall to the back room, where the music happens. Since my last visit to this place, they’ve erected a partial wall to separate the pool tables from the music. I’m not certain this a good idea.
I found a table near the stage while the band was setting up. While the pool room was packed, the concert space was nearly empty — just me, the sound man and the band. It’s important for an out-of-town band like this to have some local talent on the bill with some draw (in the same genre), but in this case, it didn’t work out.
“I just wanted to get them solid local support,” said Jamie Kinser Knight, the promoter for the event, “and it fell through.”
If you’re a musician and have ever played to an empty room, you know how brutal it is. A big part of a live performance is the energy shared by the audience and the performers. Without that feedback, without that exchange, it’s like performing to a blank wall, and when you have the lights in your eyes, and you finish a song where you pour your heart out, only to hear crickets, it’s tough. Indeed, I’ve seen other bands pack it in, but you hire Risk on Da Disk to play your club, you are going to get your money’s worth.
They started out with a rap number, with a reggae groove behind it. Right away I was impressed with the rhythm and the flow of this thing. Childers has skills with the mike, and the guitar work was solid (although a little more variation in tone might be nice). Neely laid down a solid drum foundation from start to finish.
Childers rapped through most of the show and occasionally sang. Rap is his forte, and while his vocals were not bad, they didn’t compare. Add a bass player and focus more on rap, and this could be a formidable combination.
As for the stage show, I would love to see these guys in front of a reactive audience. Childers was energetic and never gave up trying to engage the people in the club, even though because of the wall, most of them couldn’t really see or hear what was going on. But without any feedback or reaction, it was a bit flat.
I’ll be watching for these guys on the bill with one of the local reggae (or hip-hop) acts, and the people of Arlington really need to appreciate the gem of a live music venue they have in The Chuggin’ Monk. This place deserves to be packed on a weekend like this.