Molodi members were the Ambassadors of Rhythm to Hard Rock Café’s Ambassadors of Rock on Aug. 21. The body percussion group opened for the semifinals of Battle of the Bands, sponsored by Make Music Matter and held at the Hard Rock Café at 4475 Paradise Road.

Contrary to Vegas’ usual disregard for reasonable bedtimes, the show began at 10 a.m. on a Saturday. Given these perilous conditions, the audience was about as lively as can be expected.

Harmony Costa, Jason Nious, Antwan Davis and Chris Rutledge

“This is our version of a jam session,” member Jason Nious commented at the top of the show. He introduced the number, saying audiences like it “nice.” “But Molodi, we like it rough,” Nious continued with a smile.

So “nice and rough” became the compromise. And with seamless transitions, each of the four Molodi members got their two cents in about how they think this jam should go.

Antwan “Big Twan” Davis talked some beatbox smack at the top of the show, rendering the drum set behind him redundant with blitzing “boots” and “cats.”

House- and classically-trained dancer Harmony Costa followed shortly after, tossing hair out of her eyes and proving that she can both stomp out loud and dance quite well. The feminine funk was a nice counterpoint to the rest of the hard-hitting choreography.

Costa and Nious team up

However, perhaps the most entertaining part of these spots was watching the supporting dancers. Molodi has friendly competition down to an art, and it was grin-inducing to watch them give each other attitude, then suddenly swap places and forge new alliances.

The Hard Rock Café also had something to offer that many venues don’t: a pristine wooden floor, which is a luxury for dancers in general and tappers especially.

Chris Rutledge, after ducking upstage for a pair of tap shoes, jubilantly took advantage of this asset.

Rutledge telling you whassup

After the show, Rutledge spoke of the impact (no pun intended) that flooring has on a Molodi performance.

“It’s our instrument,” he said, continuing that he was thrilled when Hard Rock personnel let him tap on the bare floor.

Audibility can be an issue for more than just tap, though. Rutledge pointed out how much sound carried in the Café and explained what an advantage this is because body percussion is rarely amplified with a microphone.

Ultimately, the appeal of Molodi comes from the differences in its members. The dancers took full advantage of the spotlight and made no excuses about showing off and being themselves.

“Everybody’s bringing a different background,” Nious said. “We can do a 75 minute show because of these different backgrounds. We don’t bore the audience.”

It's Molodi, what?

Nious continued that this versatility makes their work ideal for opening acts, such as the one at the Hard Rock. Nonetheless, members Nious and Rutledge agreed that full-length productions are their forte.

“We’re sweating buckets  [with full productions],” Nious said. “We’re not just giving you straight technical stuff. We get to showcase personality.”

To catch Molodi in hand-clapping action, trot up to the Insurgo Theater on Sep. 3 and 4 for their signature show at 12:30 a.m.

To find out more about the Battle of the Bands, check out the Ambassadors of Rock homepage.

Make Music Matter is an organization partnered with the Clark County School District to bring and keep music in public schools. Find them on Facebook and see what they’re about!

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