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Review: Acafool rides into Nova 535




(This is the 31st entry in Soundcheck's summer concert series, The 50-50 Club. For previous entries, click here.)

I was really looking forward to Acafool's performance Thursday night at Nova 535 in St. Pete -- despite the fact that Nova 535 is more of an event space for weddings, parties and art shows than it is a concert venue.

And after it was over, I was really glad I went -- despite the fact that Acafool only performed a couple of songs, and one of those songs was Happy Birthday.

Why was I so glad? Because checking out this show enabled me to use Nova 535's restrooms. And it's not every day you get the chance to use some of the top restrooms in America.

Those, of course, are the sentiments of Cintas Corp., which has named Nova 535 and the Tampa Theatre as finalists in its America's Best Restroom contest. Nova 535 was lauded for its "private restroom suites featuring full-length solid birch stall doors and Italian mocha travertine with black granite diamond inserts in a completely touch-less environment."

I had just come from a screening of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, where I downed a medium Sierra Mist -- and in the movie theater world, "medium" equals "the size of a regulation kiddie pool." So I was most definitely ready to give Nova 535's loos a go.

Gotta say: I was just a smidge underwhelmed.

These restrooms are nice, no doubt about it. Marble walls and floors. Brushed-steel fixtures. A sink mirror with lights built in, and a full-length mirror on the door. A hand dryer powerful enough to levitate a cow. The "touch-less environment" is kinda nice, too -- no flush handle, no sink handle, no dryer handle.

Most impressive of all is the fact that these are private rooms. You really feel like you could camp out in there for a spell, should the need arise. It feels like a half-bath you might find in Richie Rich's mansion.

So why was I underwhelmed? I suppose I was just expecting a little more. These restrooms were clean, and very nice, but I've seen nicer. They're lovely restrooms, but are they among America's 10 best? If so, we're in trouble. Obama needs to appoint a Restroom Czar to ensure America's continued dominance in the arena of toilet-related luxury.

Also, even though everything looked spotless, I'd frankly like to take one of those CSI-style blue lights to these bathrooms. I mean, think back to all the weddings you've been to over the years, and ask yourself what sort of shenanigans might have transpired if there had been private restrooms on site. I rest my case.

So anyway: Acafool.

Kervens "Acafool" Joseph is one of Tampa Bay's savviest musical marketers. When he had a local radio hit called Hata Blockas -- a term for big pimpin' sunglasses that allow you to block out the world -- he would hang out in Ybor City and hand out actual sunglasses emblazoned with the phrase. When the Rays marched toward the World Series last fall, he wrote a tribute song called Trop Boys. And when he landed a single, Let's Ride, in the Fast & Furious movie -- not on the soundtrack, mind you, but just in the movie -- he hung out at screenings of the movie and threw a party at Club Skye to celebrate.

Playing a show at Nova 535 would have been a shrewd move, too -- an attempt to stretch out to a new crowd. It's a gorgeous facility -- I'd totally consider holding a wedding there -- and it's covered with awesome art by local favorites the Vitale Brothers, Chad Mize, Phillip Clark, Frank Strunk III, Pale Horse and more.

The flyer for the show promised that Acafool would be "performing live ... in anticipation for the upcoming mixtape 'My Crazy Summer' featuring all original music and of course Let's Ride from the movie Fast & Furious." In reality, this was a birthday party for a 40ish dude named Steve*. Acafool spent most of the night walking around the club with a mic, occasionally emceeing, occasionally rapping along to the house music.

At 1 a.m., after an impromptu amateur booty-shake contest broke out between two drink-wielding ladies onstage, Acafool gathered everyone around the stage to sing Happy Birthday to Steve. And a few minutes later, he took the mic for his one big perforamce of the night: An energetic performance of Let's Ride.

So if Acafool only did two songs, and one of those songs was Happy Birthday, how can I justifably call this a concert? Simple: DJ Xspek spun a killer set. It was full of great hip-hop, from Jay-Z to Flo Rida, but he mixed in some indie-dance (the Black Kids morphing into Empire of the Sun) and even some great alt-rock (fantastic dance mixes of the Killers' Somebody Told Me and Oasis' Wonderwall). He even brought Rockwell's Somebody's Watching Me and Michael Jackson's Wanna Be Startin' Somethin'**, and trust me, ain't no party like a Rockwell party.


Regardless of how little Acafool performed, DJ Xspek played so well I never felt like retreating to hide in my own private restroom. But it was nice to know that I could have if I wanted to.

Next up in The 50-50 Club: Darryl Worley, July 17 at the Round Up in Tampa.

-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*. 

* Yes, I know, this was the second time in a week that I crashed the birthday party of a complete stranger -- the first being "Savvy's Oh So Epic Sweet 16" at Club Fuze. On the plus side, I heard this week from the father of "Savvy," who thanked me for coming, and for reviewing Select Start's performance. So Steve, if you're out there: Happy Birthday. Sorry I didn't bring a gift.

** Michael Jackson died on June 25. Since then, I've heard MJ songs at nearly every event I've been to. Have we as a society recovered enough to consider whether the whole MJ resurgence has kind of played itself out? Just wondering.

[Last modified: Friday, July 17, 2009 11:42am]


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