Concert Review: Otherwise Known at Salto in Toronto

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Photo by Jen Ford

Otherwise Known are re-emerging on the local Toronto Hip-Hop scene after spending some time keeping their music under wraps and perfecting their craft. It’s been two years since the duo consisting of emcees D-Knight & E (a/k/a Otto Major) released their debut album, After Hours, and the accompanying EP Word To The Wise, but they’ve started to gain some traction recently with a slew of singles released over the past few months. With their next album, appropriately titled Just A Matter of Time on the horizon, they’re looking to build a buzz as they gear up for the release.

Live performances by Otherwise Known have been sparse over the years, with only a few appearances in Oakville’s local scene. Building a lineup of artists from around the GTA to join them, O.K. would make their return to the stage at Salto Restaurant & Bar, marking their very first headlining show in Toronto. This would be my first time going to this venue, which is a small restaurant on the corner of Davenport & Ossington, with an open space at the back for live performances. While throwing concerts is not their primary function, Salto had a real friendly atmosphere, with the staff giving away free gift cards throughout the night.

Wanting to get the party started early, Otherwise Known decided to set things off themselves with a mini opening set on top of their headlining set. Host Archaic encouraged the crowd to get out of their seats and abandon their tables as D-Knight & E started off their set with the song “Comin’ Thru.” The duo went back and forth with their raps and got the crowd moving with “Where The Party At,” before getting into some of their new 2017 singles produced by Clockwork. With their newest songs being the most popular, they got the crowd to chant along to “Try Somethin’ New,” and kept the good vibes rolling with the Jamila B-assisted “Don’t Do Me This Way.” They then wrapped up their opening set with a couple more songs off the Word To The Wise EP, “Watch & Learn” and “O.K.”

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With a good call & response on Otherwise Known’s last song, the crowd was warmed up and ready to party. Next up would be Montreal emcee Providence The Poet, who I last saw perform at Less Than Level opening for Robbie G. He brought some good energy to the room, connecting to the crowd with emotional appeal, and he even got people jumping to the beat at one point. As with that last show at Less Than Level, the artists following Providence weren’t exactly Hip-Hop emcees in the traditional sense; there was a trap artist who basically played hypeman, shouting words over his own studio-recorded vocals, and a neo-soul singer who mellowed things out. The crowd still reacted well to them though, turning up to the trap music and vibing with the soul.

There would be a long wait until the next artist, which gave the host Archaic some time to entertain the crowd. Aside from handing out gift cards as raffle prizes, he also got on the mic and rapped for two consecutive versions of Five Fingers Of Death, which has the emcee spit freestyle verses while the beat changes five times. Archaic tried to keep the crowd involved, and DJ Ulb3rg spun some tunes to fill the time, but the crowd started to die out over the half hour wait. Eventually J-Webb arrived and delivered some smooth flows, but the crowd was cut in half by the time he performed his set.

With most of the artists being fairly new and local, not having large, loyal fan bases yet, much of the crowd decided to leave at the first sign of delays. This doesn’t happen when you have an international headliner who everyone is willing to wait for, but with these type of shows, the crowd seems more about being entertained in the moment, and leaving once that moment’s gone. There were plenty more gift cards to give away, but most of the people who got raffle tickets weren’t around to claim their prizes.

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Photo by Jen Ford

Those who stayed at the bar until last call were in for a treat, as Otherwise Known returned to the stage and got into some new music. DJ Ulb3rg started playing the beat he produced on the new Halloween-themed single “Nightmarishhh,” and E/Otto Major got on the mic to spit his rapid-fire verses. D-Knight would join him as they performed “Comin’ Thru” and “Where The Party At” for a second time, and they would get into the unreleased new single “Drugs XXX Rock N Roll.” Having not even touched their debut album up to this point, they then performed some throwbacks including “Fuck The Five-O” and “Light Up.” While much of the crowd was gone by this point, they still rocked their set like professionals, and some of the lucky fans who stayed got to walk away with some free merch.

Overall, this was a fun, small party with different flavours of rap being performed throughout the night. All the artists on the bill did their thing, and are bound to start rocking larger crowds in the future. While Salto isn’t exactly suited for large concerts, it worked well in providing a friendly environment for these local artists to connect with new fans, and is great for small events like this.

 

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