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Friends with Benefits

Yeah, yeah, so we're a little late with this; never you mind that. What's more important is that two benefit concerts last weekend proved it's possible for totally different artistic scenes to come together for the sake of a great show, if you just tack the words "benefit" or "fundraiser" to the name of the event. Art Conspiracy II at the Longhorn Ballroom Friday raised some $12,000 for this year's beneficiary, La Reunion, a planned artist residency in Oak Cliff. And about a dozen rappers and one rock band managed to put on a shockingly successful show at the Double-Wide Sunday to help raise money for Plano producer-rapper Picnic, who lost just about everything -- clothes, musical equipment, master tapes -- in an apartment fire last month.

In an interview for the paper version of Unfair Park, La Reunion and Art Con II organizers Sarah Jane Semrad and Andrea Roberts wondered aloud why metroplex visual artists and musicians don't interact more. Considering how fun events like Art Con and the Fort Worth Art Consortium's Experience the Art of Music are, it's a good question. The answer is probably inertia. Judging by how exhausted Semrad seemed during the interview, it takes a lot of effort to collide the two worlds. After Friday, another factor may impede such collaborations: musicians' egos. The paintings were clearly the stars Friday, as patrons crowded the art displays, leaving the dance floor in front of the stage nearly barren most of the night.

The benefit for P.P.T.'s Picnic was one of the most memorable shows in recent history, as the local hip-hop scene and P.P.T. labelmates Black Tie Dynasty rallied to Picnic's aid, raising some $3,000. It could have been a nightmare herding about a dozen rappers and a rock band, but the night could have hardly gone better. Didn't see every act, but the four-man Boondox crew's set was fire. Strange Fruit Project's S1 paused between songs in SFP's blazing set to tearfully reflect on the importance of community and being thankful for one's blessings.

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Pikahsso, the other P of P.P.T., gave the most energetic show of the night. I've already said more than enough in past stories about what a phenomenally talented and absolutely weird performer he is, but Pik outdid himself Friday, nearly collapsing after his hyper-animated set.

P.P.T.'s "T," Tahiti, organized the event, and former Observer music editor and current music blogger Sam Machkovech hosted. Machkovech amused the crowd with awkward-humor racial jokes, killing time during one delay by offering himself up for $10 a pop as the target of "Slap the White Boy." No takers. Could that mean racial harmony is possible in this city? The rest of the night proved beyond doubt that rapper-rocker harmony can and should happen on a concert bill, so why not? BTD fans seemed to be digging the rappers, and quite a few hip-hop heads gave BTD's set some hands-up, head-nodding approval.

Let's call every concert a benefit, even if it's the musicians, artists, clubs and promoters who are the beneficiaries. --Jesse Hughey

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