Hundreds packed Chinatown Mardi Gras’ main
stage at the corner of Nu‘uanu and Hotel streets this
Fat Tuesday to see local band Black Square, fresh from a recent
tour in California.
It’s good to be back in Hawai‘i. This is home to
us,” said lead guitarist Josh86 during the performance.
Black Square started seven years ago in Chinatown, playing
in a basement on Pauahi Street. Its current performance, according
to manager Dr. Serena Hashimoto, an associate professor of
communication at HPU and producer of their last two albums,
was “a great opportunity to reflect on their roots and
remember how far they have come.”
Black Square, a trio in 2002, named themselves after artist
Kasimir Malevich’s painting of a black square on top
of a white square. The painting, like the band’s philosophy,
explores the idea of stimulating thought and emotion using
art to change perception.
Since 2002, Black Square has integrated its repertoire with
a mixture of reggae, ska (a blend of jazz, swing, punk, and
island), and a little bit of punk rock.
During this Mardi Gras celebration, the band’s sax and
trombone created a Bourbon Street mood, while still maintaining
its genre-blurring style.
Black Square’s lyrics echo political and social issues
central to Hawai‘i. To songs about Chinatown (the venue
in which they performed for Mardi Gras), and songs about “rising
up” to address denial of civil rights to minorities,
the band demonstrates that it cares deeply about its home.
Black Square has released three albums, End the Cycle in 2004,
One Glass of Water in 2007, and most recently, Onward in 2008.
Other band members include Babyface McEvan playing tenor sax,
T.R. playing alto sax, Kat playing bass, Brian Kim playing
drums, and G-Bone (who celebrated his birthday on Fat Tuesday)