Sunday, August 15, 2010

Public Enemy - Son of Berserk - Kendo the Almost Famous - The Cornell West Theory -- 9:30 Club - Aug 14 2010

The Cornell West Theory - So I go to hip hop shows about once every two or three years and I get treated to an opening act that I have seen before. This local outfit is on a very good local label, Sockets Records. They bring a couple vocalists with lots of musicians--bass, drums, percussion, keyboards and electronics/sampling. They really have a beautiful dub, spacey vibe going on which seems pretty unique to me. They added a female vocalist for much of the set. Unfortunately the set was only 15 minutes, but it still gave the crowd a good taste of this excellent local band.

Kendo, the Almost Famous - From NYC, comes Kendo and his band of drums, bass, guitar, DJ and additional vocalist. They hit the stage quickly after the last set and get a still slow growing crowd. In fact, the crowd was kind of dead. I know it's opening acts, but it is Saturday. I liked this bands metallic guitar and punchy sounds. Rather straight ahead lyrics from what I can pick up and the crowd did start stirring it up a bit. But 15 minutes and gone.

Son of Berserk -And a couple minutes later and this more straight ahead rap group hits the stage. They have a DJ and three vocalists. After some of the expected raps like "they're is a show here tonight, a party here tonight, put your hands in the air", it did seem the lyrics got a bit more serious. Hard to pick up full dialogue unfortunately, but there was some good energy. And why not, because they were done in thirteen minutes. Hmmmmm. As I say, I don't go to too many hip hop shows, but this little appetizer tray comes a little too quickly with portions too small to my liking. Especially since there was about a 45 minute delay after this with no real stage breakdown.

Public Enemy - The crowd had swelled, shy of a sellout but good numbers of people who were pumped to see this legendary outfit. They had the major two of course, Chuck D and Flavor Fav. Professor Griff is still around along with long time DJ, DJ Lord. They have their various Bomb Squad security guys and dancers along with a guitar, bass and drums setup. It is the 20th anniversary of "Fear of a Black Planet" which is one of the few hip hop albums I have heard more than once, but I still am not going to pretend to be an expert here. I did see that they did not do the album front to back. They did a lot of it, but nicely mixed in older cuts, newer ones and some recent efforts. It was a good set list and they built it nicely as it got heavier and wilder as the night went on. The musicians and DJ really pounded out the noise. That is what draws me to this act. They really can pound the sound into you as good as some post punk shoegaze outfit. But then you also have two great vocalists who are worth seeing on their own. Chuck D has one of the best voices anywhere, in addition to having plenty to say of course. This was 90 minutes of high energy music with plenty of action on stage with the whole crew putting out. Flavor Flav's mother was in attendance as a bonus. Strong set as expected and an outfit anyone should see, even if you have seen a lot less hip hop than even I have.

Quote of the Night: "Don't fuck my concert" from Chuck D as he stopped things to admonish someone in front and try what I believe was the classic peace making effort that used to happen so many times at punk or hardcore shows. Nostalgia for me, but mostly a good move by Chuck D. The crowd seemed happy and positive after that.

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