“I don’t want to go downtown to listen to cover bands,” a pretty common sentiment that provoked Fort Lauderdale rapper Bleubird and his friends in the Black Locust Society to begin a sort of seasonal series of parties/artshows/skate event/tattooing event known as Swarm. In the last two years since it’s inception, there have been seven Swarm parties with the legend only growing. The Swarm event had up until now remained exclusive to it’s birthplace in Fort Lauderdale but on the 25th this month both Bleubird and Swarm will be coming to Jacksonville’s Burro Bar to unleash the same sound and fury that originally got it noticed.
Bleubird himself played in Jacksonville roughly two years ago in conjunction with Duval’s own Astronautalis under the name Boyfriends INC. It was that night when after playing the show in an RV parked in the Zombie Bikes complex that Bluebird (given name: Jacques Bruna) befriended Jack Diablo of Chicken and Whiskey. The friendship began as Bruna did a Freeebird episode (his tour video series) featuring Diablo’s company Burro Bags but would progress when Chicken and Whiskey would come to play a Swarm event. In the early days of Swarm they did live tattooing and generally five people would walk away with Black Locust Society tattoos every night, including Diablo. Since then tattooing laws have changed in Florida but the Black Locust Society is still alive and well enough to bring their show to downtown Jacksonville. “It started out maybe 80 people kinda hanging out in a warehouse listening to music and skateboarding, to by the seventh one I think there were 350 people there,” Bruna explains, “Each one kind of built upon itself and kind of got bigger and more ridiculous.”
Of course Bleubird’s rapping style should be noted. He is a rapper most known for his speed and wit, descriptions of his work tend to lean toward indie-hip-hop. In the past he has worked with such artists as Noah23, Astronautalis, and Alias and his latest work, Cannonball!!!, which was produced with help from Andy Bothwell (Astronautalis) and Ben Cooper (Radical Face). There was trepidation at the start of making the record. “It was hard for Andy and I because when we first started I was like “I don’t want to make a Bleubird record trying to sound like an Astronautalis record,” Bruna noted, but he continued to say that they decided there was no way that would happen since the two rappers had such distinct styles of their own. Previously Bluebird records were made by people sending Bruna beats that he would rap over but he said that Cooper “taught me about true collaboration.” Cannonball!!! does come from a more “palpable” angle, as Bruna puts it. Songs like “Time 4real” have a certain resonance that wasn’t as prominent in previous releases. There is something about Bleubird’s rapid fire delivery over the smooth and key-driven production of Radical Face that makes it something one can listen to over and over again. Other songs like “Dead Homes,” the album’s second single are darker and show a different but very good side of Bleubird and the video is likewise, a notable piece of art.
With the upcoming show in Jacksonville Bleubird is not only bringing his own rap game but “the whole circus” of Swarm (minus the live tattooing of course). He plans to bring the same combination of skate, screenprinting, art, live-gaming, and music culture that thrived at the events in Fort Lauderdale. Also expected to perform are Jackie Stranger, Rickolus, Cardiel, and the Goddamn Hustle. The variety and talent alone is enough reason to go but it is also pretty important to mention that the event is free. Donations accepted and encouraged, I’m encouraging them, but not required. This is possibly the best time you could have this Saturday and not an event to sleep on.