MC Yogi’s new CD, Pilgrimage, topped the World Music charts from the moment it was released in mid June, so it should be no surpise that his performance at Wanderlust Vermont June 23 was off the charts as well.
The Saturday evening set was an extravaganza of psychedelic lights, special effects and floor-shaking bass, rife with the get-off-your-asana dance beats and heart-thumping, tongue-twisting vocal riffs MC Yogi (aka Nick Giacomini) has come to be known for. Silhouetted against a larger-than-life multi-media backdrop in the shadow of Stratton Mountain, the man who put conscious hip-hop on the charts cranked up the volume and raised the roof on the outdoor tent filled to the brim with Wanderlust revelers.
Buoyant from an East Coast CD-release tour and No. 1 chart ranking, the superstar yogi appeared to command a larger crowd (by our nonscientific method) even than Ziggy Marley, the festival headliner who played later that night. Which is probably not surprising, being that this was Wanderlust (these are yogis, after all, not potheads — well, at least for the most part). “MC” had big praise for Ziggy, whose message of love, freedom and tolerance resonates with Giacomini’s own “Give Love” anthem-for-the-masses.
We were kind of hoping he would break out in a hip-hopped up version of “Love is My Religion,” but alas, it was not to be.
Instead, he focused on the high-powered, horn-happy, bass-driven raps from Pilgrimage, a tour de force of an album that has been four years in the making. Anyone who fell in love with his debut CD, Elephant Power, has been waiting for this one — and, full disclaimer, that includes us. We weren’t disappointed. Right from the first music track, a tribute to Ganesha subtitled “Sound the Horns,” it grabs you and practically propels you to “Rise Up”– the first of the disc’s many anthem-like calls to wake up and be the change.
And now that you’re up, MC Yogi invites you to “fly away home” in the soaring, trumpet-punctuated rap, “Born to Fly.” At Wanderlust, acro-yogis converged on and in front of the stage during the song and wowed the crowd with some gravity-defying moves that drove home the tune’s inspirational message: “You know we…are born to fly, spread your wings and touch the sky.”
We also fell for Giacomini’s funked-up “I Am That,” with its twangy electronic beat and classic Indian-style “scat” sprinkled throughout. “Sunlight” is a feel-good, let-the-sun-shine-in anthem with a message of hope, love and letting go — with (you guessed it) lots of horns. How can you not love a song that reassures you repeatedly that “It’s a brand new day,” and “Everything is gonna be okay”? One Light baby.
And then there is Hanuman. We didn’t think it was possible to outdo “Rock on Hanuman,” the Elephant Power track featuring Krishna Das, but this just might do it. This time, Giacomini takes on the legendary “story that must be told” from the Hindu sacred text, the Ramayana, In it, Hanuman, the monkey god who is Ram’s most beloved servant, leaps across the ocean to save Sita from the evil king who has kidnapped the good Queen.
Amanda Giacomini, MC Yogi’s artist wife, perfectly illustrated the tale with an array of carefully choreographed cartoonish images, animations, and old video clips. “Hanuman” is Big Sound, befitting to a Hindu Superhero who can leap across oceans and hold whole mountains in the palm of his hand.
Sadly, there was no trio of trumpeteers on hand on the Wanderlust stage to add the perfect punctuation. And that bass? It really did shake the floor — so much that the mic on our camera couldn’t handle it. But the “floor show” with Nick’s moves and Amanda’s graphics, along with the turntable wizardry of Robin Livingston, was so engrossing we just had to share (with soundtrack provided by Pilgrimage’s “Hanuman” track, which you can download free for yourself here). Watch below and tell us what you think of the new MC Yogi. Listen right to the end.
The only thing else we can say about “Hanuman” by MC Yogi is “God Bless that monkey, he made my day.”
hahaha. Jai Shri Ram.
Also see: www.mcyogi.com