By Alex Updike
You may not have heard much about the “Epoch Momentous” movement, but if founder Abel Lujan has anything to say about it, that will not last long. As an emcee himself, Lujan has experienced first-hand the difficulties of branching out and finding recognition in the Coachella Valley, and knows that many other talented performers are struggling in the same way. That is one of the motivations behind Lujan’s Anthology Festival; he has a desire to provide platforms for emerging artists to not only perform on, but thrive on as well. And he does not plan on stopping here. His goal is to take what he is doing musically and move it beyond the confines of the Coachella Valley into Los Angeles and beyond. But all great movements have a starting point. For Lujan, that starting point was Thursday night at Plan B Live Entertainment and Cocktails in Thousand Palms.
The night started off on a shaky note due to a few sound issues . . . mainly getting it to work. But then again, anyone who has experienced any sort of musical event probably should not be surprised at such a delay. The night eventually kicked off with local band Nuclear Cowboys, comprised of members Marco Thoma (drums/rapper), Mike “Sick Boy,” (lead guitar/lead vocals) and Dave Strauss (bass). Describing themselves as a “punk, country, and rockabilly” type of band, Nuclear Cowboys started off the evening with a mellower punk rock sound and, as any self-respecting punk/country/rockabilly band would undoubtedly do, moved straight into a cover of the Jay-Z classic “99 Problems.” The switch worked well, and the crowd enjoyed Thoma’s rendition as he showed off his ability to simultaneously play the drums and rap. Even though the band plays mostly covers at this point, they were adamant that they are not a cover band. Original pieces are in the works, but as the band has only been together for about a month and half, fans are simply going to have to wait. “We want every show to be a party,” the Cowboys said. And as the lead act of the Anthology Festival, they did an excellent job.
Following the Nuclear Cowboys was the undoubted highlight of the evening, singer and Open Call at the McCallum winner, Brianna Finnell. Finnell sang three songs which beautifully exhibited her range and vocal ability. She started her set off with the Journey classic “Don’t Stop Believing,” then moved into “Sabor a mi,” a beautiful piece sung in Spanish. She finished her night with the theatrical number “Glitter and be Gay,” a high-energy, entertaining piece which allowed Finnell to show off her ability to hit the high notes. Finnell, who recently performed in Les Miserables at the McCallum Theater and sings at Oscars and the Hyatt Hotel in Palm Springs, is heading to UC Irvine this summer on a full-ride vocal scholarship. After hearing her sing, nobody should doubt why. Finnell exhibited a smooth and classical voice which made listening to her both relaxing and a pure joy.
Following Finnell was a lineup of mostly local rap artists. While many were talented, one that stood out was freestyle artist Solus Lupus, who highlighted his set by freestyling about a beer someone had left on stage and then, consequently, chugging it. The rapper, who goes by Solus Lupus because it is Latin for “lone wolf,” believes he is one of a dying breed, as he raps about the profit of knowledge and experience rather than the profit of money or women. His lyrics prove this. Surrounded by a line-up of talented, yet often times stereotypical lyricists, Solus Lupus showed depth and heart in his music, made all the more impressive by the fact that it was all coming straight off the top of his head.
Overall the night was an enjoyable experience. Rap groups Kaus & Efect, Lost Age Gang, and Action Pack Music, along with solo rappers Insane Rhetoric and Scoonz, as well as musical acts Porsia Camille and Razor J all performed. “We want to inspire people to make the most of their God-given talents,” Lujan said, and “we want to make people happy.” Congratulations Mr. Lujan, you did just that.