Blueprint @ The Back Yard Bar – Gainesville, FL

This past Friday (Feb. 22), Blueprint opened the Florida leg of his tour in Gainesville. The show took place at The Back Yard Bar and featured The Duppies, ETurn & DJ SPS, The Messenger & Robzilla and (touring with Blueprint) DJ Rare Groove.

This was my first time seeing a full show at The Back Yard Bar and this outdoor venue is pretty nice. It’s a small venue nestled between Boca Fiesta! and Palomino Pool Hall, perfect for grabbing a bite to eat, catching a show, and finishing with a game of pool and drinks. Or, any combination of the three with drinks available at all three. The stage lighting could be better, but it’s a great atmosphere.

I missed a good portion of The Duppies’, a rocksteady ska band based out of Gainesville. A good friend of mine describes the sound as “Two Tone.” From what I did catch, excluding the interruption, they have a good sound. The best way for me to describe it is a mix of ska and reggae–something you can chill or dance to, but not too intense of dancing. It is certainly worth checking out. (And we send our regards to the lead-singer and his family.)

ETurn and DJ SPS (of The Tablehogs) are an MC/DJ duo out of Orlando, FL. I met SPS before and have seen him tear it up on the decks. I believe first hearing about this show was also the first time I heard of ETurn. With an album releasing soon, I can say that ETurn’s performance has me keeping an eye out for the album. She is a hard-hitting MC. I have seen rappers use a rapid-fire deliver and become boring or one-dimensional. ETurn is able to keep up with them and still keep you engaged. While I would like to see a bit more crowd interaction (not necessarily talking, but connecting), she still had a solid performance. The microphone problem may have thrown her off a bit, but I still believe that she will get better over time and I look forward to future performances.

Marley The Messenger and DJ Robzilla (of The Tablehogs) are a couple of artists I have seen perform quite a bit now, each solo and as a duo. It is a pleasure to see (and hear) them working together and a very fitting match. From B-Boy cypher music to introductory scratching lessons, The Messenger and Robzilla performances are all about the crowd. The Messenger does a good job of getting the crowd engaged in the show. Actually, a cypher of Poppers and B-Boys started during the ETurn & SPS and Messenger & Robzilla sets.

Unfortunately, these two cut their set short in order to give Blueprint and DJ Rare Groove their allotted time (due to an earlier incident). If you ever get a chance, check out The Messenger and DJ Robzilla. They’re far from your typical radio rap, which means they’re not for everyone or every mood. But, there’s a decent chance you’d enjoy their show.

Now, for the headliner: Blueprint w/ DJ Rare Groove. First of all, I discovered Blueprint only a couple years ago when I saw the video of a live performance of “The Clouds” from his 2011 album, Adventures in Counter-Culture. I thought that was (and still is) one of the realest tracks I’ve heard. Soon, I found a copy of Adventures in Counter-Culture, which is dope, but not every track blew my mind like “The Clouds.” This is when I feel I should point out something I’ve learned over time: there are artists that make great albums. There are artists that put on great shows. There are the few who do both well and the many that suck at both. In many situations, it’s one of the first two.

Blueprint makes good music, but to only listen to his albums and not see him live is doing him and yourself injustice. He and DJ Rare Groove put on one of the best live performances I have seen.  The performance made me realize how good a few of the tracks on Adventures of Counter-Culture are. What made their performance so good wasn’t just the music, but how it was all put together. For the first…maybe 20 minutes of the show, there was no moment between tracks. The end of a track would seamlessly transition into an opening for another. I also never realized how dope the production is for some of his music. Blueprint and Rare Groove had an awesome show, bringing plenty of energy and generating crowd interaction, even taking (and ACTUALLY PERFORMING) suggestions from the crowd. I guess it didn’t hurt that some of the Gainesville crowd knew his stuff, new and old, word-for-word.

Overall, the show at The Back Yard Bar was great. The Gainesville crowd really got into it and the acts were good. If I had to, I’d give it an overall 8/10 slices. But, I don’t have to.

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is co-founder and editor-in-chief of If he's not fooling around on the website, you may be able to catch him listening to Prince, stream-monstering, or making pancakes. Follow him @theconqueso or email at

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