LIVE @ THE OPERA HOUSE
By: Fridae Mattas
Tuesday April 12th Collie Buddz brought his “Playback” tour to Toronto’s Opera House in support of his new EP of the same name. Buddz’s real name is Colin Harper, he is the semi new school Reggae Hip Hop Dancehall artist who was born in New Orleans Louisiana, moved to Bermuda when he was five and has a TDot connection amidst his Bermudian foundation. Both Bermuda and Canada are the top two friendliest places in the world to live, could it be because the Herbs “Come Around”? Collie’s star has been rising since dropping his self titled first major label album in 2007 which debuted at #1 on the Billboard Reggae charts. Singles like ‘Come Around”, “Mamacita” and “Blind To You” are blowing up dance floors and urban airwaves, it was obvious those tracks were a fan favorite when he performed them in the set but they also were thrilled when he busted out the new ‘Playback’ EP tunes and a few Bob Marley covers. Collie released his ‘Playback’ EP for free on his website January 18th 2011 and has had over 75,000 downloads since, looks like it won’t stop climbing anytime soon. Playback is still available for you to download for free right now. If you haven’t done this yet, do yourself a huge favor after reading this review go download yourself some extremely enjoyable tunes. DOWNLOAD PLAYBACK HERE
I first discovered Collie’s music through my younger brother who is obsessed with Reggae, Hip Hop, Rap and all the Island sounds, so when he told me about this White boy who could hold his own with Reggae’s finest I had to check him out. This wasn’t his first show in Toronto but it was the first show I was able to catch. Story of my life, I always missed when Buddz came around before! Honestly thought I was going to miss this show as well, all thanks to the TTC subway having issues (What else is new?) holding up all Eastbound trains on the Bloor-Danforth for forty five minutes. As New Kingston and Los Rakas the supporting acts were jamming on stage I was sitting on the crippled subway waiting for it to start moving again so I could finally reach the Opera House located at the east end of the city close to the areas I grew up. Of course when I get off the subway the streetcar I needed and all the Cabbies were nowhere to be found! Clearly Murphy and his damn Laws were totally fucking with me today because usually dozens of Taxi’s are waiting outside the subway stations for people but for some reason at this moment nothing!
After fifteen minutes of trying to hail down a cab it was accomplished, I swear it was easier to get one in NYC and the streetcar still didn’t come as I got into the cab, absolutely incredible but I finally reached the venue and it was crazy! As I walked in, the paramedics were carrying a kid who passed out from heat exhaustion because it was so hot in the sold out Opera House. I was a little scared because my intuition was telling me I was going to be in the front lines for sure and some drama lay ahead! My instincts were dead on…Soon after the fabulous Female at the door handed me my media pass she warned me it was really hot in there, people were dropping like flies, she also advised me to take off my jacket and find my way through the crowd, lastly she wished me Good Luck”! I needed it, my crowd claustrophobia was kicking in, they didn’t have a media pit; nothing to separate media from fans but on the bright side Collie’s set was to start in five or ten minutes. A little annoyed that I missed New Kingston band but at least I caught a minute of Los Rakas as I lithely made my way through the super crowd trying to find a unobstructed area to shoot from.
As I closed in on the stage, all the females at the front were giving me cut eye and kissing their teeth making it crystal clear there was no way in hell they would let me come near that area. I don’t get these girls, did they think he was going to pluck them out of the crowd and drop to one knee? Sorry ladies, he’s taken! I tried to explain to the fans I would only be there for 3 tracks to take a couple of pictures and then disappear out of their way. A few were cool with it and actually tried to help out, others asked to see my “official” media pass, that was amazing! “Blind To You Haters”… So much harassment from fans yet security was so chill! How else would I get into the venue with a professional D-SLR still camera which was in my hand if I wasn’t covering the set? I definitely couldn’t hide the camera in my bra. I showed the disbelieving Teenies (Obsessed fans) my “Official” media pass just so they could dry their crying eyes but to some of the Teenies pressed up against the stage it really didn’t matter, my media pass pissed them off more. What was I to do? If I wasn’t working there would have been some serious problems but as a C.S.W (Classy Smart Woman) who can find a solution in any predicament I let it go and did what I needed to do to resolve this issue.
A possible area caught my eye to the right corner of stage left by the speaker so I headed in that direction, as I was migrating over it felt as if I was swimming across an ocean of people. Minutes of being in the crowd I was drenched in sweat, with all that Teenie drama I forgot to take off my jacket but thank God I wore my spring jacket because it was a super nice warm day in the city! Once I reached the destination there was a slight new problem, a couple of fans stood in my way. Wasn’t sure how these ones would react but I asked them anyway if they would let me squeeze through to the corner, they both replied with “There’s a piece of wood there!” Ecstatic that there was some elevation I said “Oh that’s perfect, thank you!” As I climbed over, they looked at me like I was on crack because the piece of wood sticking out from under the speaker was about four inches wide. It’s never an easy task to stand on a very thin apparatus and stay balanced, to make it more challenging my Greek JLO kept bouncing me off balance so I had to grip the stage a few times or put my knee against it to keep steady. The good thing about the platform was it gave me just enough altitude above the crowd to actually obtain some decent shots, being tall and agile also helps in these situations. I Positioned myself in the corner so I was not blocking any of the fans views of their precious…I’m sure most people didn’t even see me until they got closer to the stage.
Before Haper hit the stage Peewee the one and only Dj, Hypeman, backup singer sidekick introduced the band with Lady Alexis backup singer who threw it down girl has some pipes! When Buddz hit the stage the screams from the girls went to a whole other level, didn’t think the crowd would be this insanely loud especially since most of them were high from some herbal essence, I assumed they would be a little more laid back. During the tune “Mamacita” “Blacka Di Danca” gave Collie a quick dance lesson, I don’t know if he does it for every set but for this set in Toronto he did the “Kill the Roach Dance” after a little bit of Blacka’s footwork. When Collie dropped ‘Playback’ the crowd went bananas they were so enthusiastic in participating and did whatever was told. For many of his tracks Buddz didn’t even need to sing, the crowd sang word for word literally the whole set. Never in my life have I seen the Opera House this packed! It was a scorcher in there, so very hot in every way, plenty of females but also a good ratio of males, ages, colours and races.
Many people doubted Collie’s talent when he first came out, they thought it was all studio effects because of his musical engineering background. From what I heard and saw that night, Collie Buddz is the real deal! With his microphone in one hand and towel in the other he spit fast and svelte. I don’t think I will ever see another white boy who can do what Colin Harper can do. His singing voice is smooth, when he raps it has flavor without nasal and he has catchy tunes that he writes with his brother. Yes he did have his issues nothing serious just a little pitchy here and there and those sunglasses he wore for the most part of the set were played out after the first track…I get that it is your thing but come on mang, get a new thing that’s so 2005.
Undeniable chemistry with Buddz and his backup band, they definitely brought the Island weather and humble family atmosphere with them! I was dying to dance but I almost fell a few times into the crowd due to my unintentional bouncing to the tunes. I can’t help it! I am a musical being, whenever my body hears a beat drop, a guitar lick being shred skillfully or any musical sound and rhythm that my ears like my body reacts in dance or song like a Tourette Twitch. That’s why I have never understood how so called “singers” and “performers” can just stand there on stage. If your own music doesn’t evoke something within you how do you expect others to be captivated?
Emotion wasn’t a problem here, Collie was a little shy at times blushing from all the female love but he clearly enjoys the attention always flashing smiles while performing his music for his fans who evidently love him off. The first leg of the Playback tour is pretty much a wrap except for the last show date in Hawaii on the 29th. My moment to migrate from the corner came while he went for a breather before the encores, it cleared out a bit so I took my chance and escaped to an area with fresh air as he popped back out with an “I Love TDot” shirt. The crowd loved him even more after that. The last tune of the set was one of my favorites of his which I quoted above “Blind To You”, it talks about the haters and how you should just ignore them. The fans were the loudest for this one even though it was the last tune which he delivered with conviction. From what I hear a European Collie tour is in the works, he will be playing a few festivals this summer and finishing his very hush hush Sophomore LP. This won’t be the last time you hear of Collie Buddz, there is a long successful career in his future.
When Collie Buddz comes around to your city for a live show, run like the wind to buy your tickets because his talent is unspeakably ahead of its time! Colin ‘Collie Buddz’ Harper is truly one of a kind, without a doubt Fridae approved!
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