Check 1, 2

Photo by Jarett Lapitan

Photo by Jarett Lapitan

By Riana Stellburg

I woke up and the first thing that came to my mind was, “I hope today goes smoothly. Please, please go smoothly.”

My crew, Green Leaf Check, and I had been pushing a show for two months that we thought would be impossible. The two acts weren’t mainstream, and it was a niche crowd that we were reaching out to. We were bringing them down on our own dime after a failed Kickstarter campaign and taking a huge risk, mostly because we wanted to see them live. And we wanted to see Honolulu’s underground music scene get excited again.

When I entered Fresh Café Kakaako, I was blown away. With great help, we were able to light up the whole warehouse green — and don’t even get me started on the sounds. With two of our sound systems combined, we created the Voltron of sound systems. You could feel the bass in every nook and cranny of your heart, and that was exactly what I wanted.

Everything was ready to go. We opened the doors and slowly people trickled in. It started at 5 p.m. That was something a little different, but we wanted the show to be a pau-hana party.

I also was DJing later in the evening and I kept scolding myself, “Why am I playing? I’m too stressed about everything else to play.” But after seeing more and more people come in, hearing the music bumping and our host Kwalified hyping up the crowd, I felt more at ease.

The lineup had a great transition, with Green Leaf Check residents Kowai Kowai and Joncozy warming up the stage, then DJ Delve with his groovy yet hip-hop set, perfect for people to get off the wall.

Our first headliner, Temecula-based producer Esta of Soulection, made sure everyone danced to his set. I remember seeing him get off the tables and dance on the stage himself. If you weren’t dancing, you were doing it wrong.

I was next up, and I was glad that I had Na Hoku Hanohano hip-hop nominees The Horror Show perform. It was great for hyping up the crowd. When I DJ for these guys, I feel confident because I know they always kill it. I was so proud watching them jump around with the audience chanting, “THE HORROR SHOW!”

It was the perfect build-up for our final headliner (and one of my idols), DJ Sosupersam (pictured above). She understood the audience and knew what they wanted to hear, one of the most valuable skills a DJ can have.

The vibe in Fresh Café was amazing that night, and I couldn’t help but look at everyone’s faces. They were so happy, and I knew that, for the young ones especially, they would remember this show for the rest of their lives. I felt proud for my team, like we had just seen our child graduate college or something.

I awoke the next morning in relief, and loved hearing everyone’s experience with the show, not just from the attendees but also from the artists that performed.

Now … what’s next?

Riana Stellburg is a freelance photojournalist and brand director for streetwear shop About The Goods during the day and a DJ by night.

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