Diversity at Amsterdam Bar & Hall with Opliam, Optimystic and Vlad


Still full from last Thursday, we got right back into at the Amsterdam bar and hall. It was a collective of people from McNally Smith music college performing tonight. From the northern part of Chile, Vlad and his band started it off. His band consisted of Vlad as the lead singer playing acoustic guitar, singing, and playing just about every flute known to man. A bassist, someone playing the keyboard and another person playing the cajón drum. The cajón drum is pretty much a wooden box you sit down with it in between your legs and strike it from the side. When the band was done with there set Vlad brought his mother up on stage. She was a phenomenal singer and played the bombo drum while Vlad played an assortment of flutes and sang as well. The bombo drum is a bass drum you set down in from of you and hit with drumsticks. It consists of wood and cowhide, creating a note of low definite of indefinite pitch. They played songs in Chilean that originated in South America, very cool to see. I mean how often are your ears taken around South America while sitting in a bar in St. Paul.

Optimystic (Max Altmark of Lifted Mindz) was up next and of course he started off by taking his shoes off. Then stood on the table expressing peace love and happiness which grabbed the crowds attention. He let the beat rock for a minute and then got into doing a little a capella that was dense with quality rhymes that would make you think. It was cool, throughout his set he was talking about standing rock and an old man put a “stand in solidarity with standing rock” on the amp/speaker. Which led Vlad to get up there, take his shirt off and put it up on the amp as well (then Vlad walked around the bar without a shirt on for the next half hour). Optimystic kept reminding us about the importance of peace throughout his set and that Lifted Mindz “isn’t just a rap group it’s a family”. Angie Citlali was the second to last performance, she sang and played on her big Yamaha piano keyboard. Telling us how she went to Standing Rock about a month ago and came back totally inspired. People in North Dakota were chanting “water is life” and she was able to come home and incorporate that into her music, making it a chorus. Angie also sang a couple songs in Spanish while playing her acoustic guitar. It was a thrill to see these artists come out and express their culture through music.

The headliner for the evening was Opliam. An emcee that pushes the boundaries of rap, talking about things beyond a stereotypical rapper. Production that’ll you’ll get lost in and rhymes pertaining to physics, time, politics, things that’ll make you question our existence and enjoy the beauty of life. He played songs from his first EP in 2015 titled 4.4.4 and his latest project Mescalation vol. 1, whether you like it or not you can’t deny the truth in his rhymes. Songs like “Hallucinogenic Dreams” are you just reading this from a parallel universe? and “Feng Shui” talking about the interconnection of the humans in space and time . Opliam also talked about having been to Standing Rock within the past month as well, it was good to see that people in your local community have actually stopped what they were doing to go up there and have some sort of impact.