Taking place each year on the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence, the Fourth of July is—in theory, at least—a celebration of freedom. Chief among the liberties we enjoy in America is the freedom of expression, and no Triangle band stands up for that right more emphatically than The Beast. Deftly distilling socially conscious hip-hop with smoothest jazz, the Durham quartet litters its muscular anthems with other disparate inflections—sheeny electronics, rock 'n' roll psychedelics. The breadth of that power comes into clearest focus when The Beast plays with their Big Band configuration, augmenting their typical lineup of bass, keys and drums with strings, horns, additional percussion and robust vocal backing. Thus, it makes sense that the group would play with their reinforced complement on Independence Day—and offer up goodies for everyone who shows up.
The Beast + Big Band will play a free show at American Tobacco's Center Stage (on the lawn between DPAC and DBAP) in Durham today at 5 p.m., and—as an exclusive to attendees—they'll be selling advance copies of Gardens, an EP of Beast songs recorded in their enlarged configuration. Opening the show will be Apple Juice Kid, the immensely talented producer with whom Beast frontman Pierce Freelon operates the Beat Making Lab, a UNC-Chapel Hill initiative that has also hit spots around the globe in an effort to give people the tools to make their own hip-hop. To commemorate their Independence Day team-up, The Beast and Apple Juice have posted a mash-up of the official U.S. anthem, "The Star-Spangled Banner," and the unofficial black national anthem, "Lift Every Voice and Sing." Check out the track below as well as a performance clip of The Beast + Big Band performing last year at the Motorco Music Hall.