Andrew Braithwaite /CC-BY-2.0 Baltimore’s Dan Deacon has performed at Kahlon in the past and was one of several DJs at the Crown this past Saturday night, Nov. 7.
By VERONICA REARDON Your Weekend Columnist
I believe I’ve written about the Crown before, probably about the Hey You, Come Back! reading series they have there once a month. Another recurring event at the Crown that I’ve intended to go to for a while, and that I made it to this past weekend for the first time, is Kahlon (at last!).
At first I thought Kahlon was a person. In fact, to be quite honest, for an embarrassingly long time (up until last week) I thought Kahlon was a person. Turns out it’s a bi-monthly party curated by Abdu Ali, a rapper and musical artist based in Baltimore, as well as Lawrence Burney, the editor of True Laurels, a bimonthly art and music zine. I’ve read articles by Lawrence Burney before, so it was fun to find out that he’s involved with something very accessible in the Baltimore music scene. Kahlon has featured many Baltimore artists, including Dan Deacon and TT the Artist. It has been around for about two years now.
Part of the point of Kahlon is to challenge the idea that a musical event should feature one genre or only similar genres. Abdu Ali, Kahlon’s creator, said in an interview that they are trying to reflect the diversity of the music that people listen to on their own now. I relate to that statement; I can start out listening to Flying Lotus and end up listening to bluegrass in the span of half an hour. Kahlon also focuses on trying to showcase Baltimore musicians specifically and on trying to bring Baltimoreans together who may otherwise never meet.
Getting to the Crown, where Kahlon usually takes place, is easy. You can take the JHMI to the North Avenue stop, which is just before the Penn Station stop, and walk maybe a block from there. There’s no reason not to make it there at least once;
They have a lot of different events. There are the readings I mentioned; There was a performance last year by Susan Alcorn, who is an excellent and unusual steel pedal guitarist; there are punk shows and even a party called Queerology. The list goes on. It’s a part of the Baltimore art and music scene and as such, is something worth seeing at least once.
While at the event I was focused more on dancing and drinking than on observing the attendees (no regrets), there was a pretty diverse crowd in terms, and somewhat diverse racially.
The Baltimore art scene has struggled alongside the city with race and continues to do so. It is an issue that Abdu Ali and many others have talked about a lot and is one that Kahlon attempts to address. Kahlon did seem like a potential meeting place for people from many different backgrounds and parts of Baltimore, and may have been even better in the other room, as the Crown has two rooms, and I stuck to one this time around.
The music played was certainly diverse; I heard Baltimore club music, rap, classic rock and indie pop all in the same room at various points. All of it was fun to hang out and dance to, and the vibe was great. I’m not sure if Abdu Ali himself has performed at Kahlon, but I would definitely like to see him live even more now that I’ve been to the party he runs and read some of his interviews. [Editor’s note: Abdu Ali performs regularly at Kaholn and performed on Saturday night.]
While Kahlon has been at the Crown for most of its lifetime, Abdu Ali has talked about moving it around Baltimore and making it more of a festival. The potential for Kahlon and for Baltimore’s music scene is great, and I’m excited to see what the future holds.