View From the Front Row, 11/27/10
The other night, I went and saw Souls of Mischief, Candlespit Collective, Broken Complex and Uephoric at Slim’s in San Francisco. My second show in a row at Slim’s after a long hiatus from going there, and it was worth the venture though a little pricey at 21 dollars a tick. Most of the crowd was there to see Bay area legends Souls of Mischief, who are very talented and worthy of their large following, but my main motive for going was to see Broken Complex, who put out one of the stronger debuts of 2010 and who I’d never seen live before. The BC crew rolls about 8 or 9 members deep, so I figured that passing on the opportunity to see them all kick it live would be missing out.
Slim's was not even halfway packed when Uephoric got on stage at 9:00 PM. One point I have to give in Slim's favor is that their shows always start at exactly the time they show on the flyer, though in Uephoric's case it meant performing for only a handful of people standing in the front row. I'd never heard of Uephoric, but he put on a pretty cool set and seemed to have his heart and head in the right places. When his laptop initially failed to start up, he kicked a fresh beatbox acapella about how he got started in hip hop, and was skilled enough to hold the small crowd's attention. As far as actual tracks go, his songs had a relaxing California type feel to them and his set breezed by pretty quickly. Nice opener.
Broken Complex, who somehow failed to be mentioned by either the host or Uephoric when they asked people to make noise for the other acts, came out next to wreck shop. Their set was really great, but disappointing to me at the same time. On the up side, all of the MCs present ripped it with the stylistic energy and drive you'd expect after listening to their full length. Plus, they were all rowdy as hell and supportive of each other on stage. Mine+Us, Max Star, and Uncle D stood out particularly well for their personalities, live antics, and intense verses. They also performed "Stay High" and "This Life," which are two of my favorite songs off their album. On the down side, I was disappointed to find that two of Broken Complex's key members, Populus and Sirah, were absent. This left some gaping holes in tracks that would have otherwise been filled with some of the group's most impressive verses. I also noticed that many of the MCs subbed their regular verses on songs for whatever verses they felt like kicking, which was kind of clever but also frustrating when I wanted to hear a favorite verse on a certain song only to get something completely different (this happened with Cleen's verse on "Stay High," for example). Still, it was a damn good set that didn't quite get the audience appreciation it deserved, despite getting a better reception that Uephoric's performance. For the finale, Uncle D dropped into the crowd, put his arm around my shoulder, and jumped around with me to the song "Don't Hate on my 808." Fun shit for sure!
Candlespit Collective, who were responsible for the organization of the evening's events and who had quite a few friends in attendance, came out next and put on a solid set. The collective consisted of MCs JB Nimble and Livin' Poetry accompanied by producer/MC Cyberclops, none of whom I'd heard before though Livin' Poetry I had heard of through his connections to a number of local MCs. Anyway, JB Nimble and Livin' Poetry were both very animated and enthusiastic on stage, with Cyberclops bringing an ill old school vibe to the beats and kicking an occasional guest verse. Out of the three of them, Livin' Poetry had the illest style, with a deep gravely tone that balanced out the higher pitches of the other MCs nicely. They added a few other entertaining elements to their set as well, with JB Nimble and Livin' Poetry getting into a mock argument rap exchange at one point and Cyberclops crafting and debuting a new beat over the course of the set. Good stuff, I picked up their album afterwards and it's well worth checking for.
The crowd started chanting "Heiro" in anticipation for Souls of Mischief as the DJ set up the appropriate equipment, and when they came out they got a huge reception from the diehard fans. All four of the Souls were present and accounted for; Tajai, Opio, A-Plus and Phesto all did their thing and showed that they haven't lost it after all these years. Super live set that had half of the fans grooving it up and the other half lighting up some really serious weed - a deep whiff of that second-hand nearly knocked me out! Souls of Mischief performed a number of their classic tracks, a couple classic Heiro tracks, and a few solo songs for each individual member. Naturally, they topped things off with an ultra hype rendition of the all-time classic "93' Till Infinity" that had the whole crowd jumping, and even came out to perform an encore after that. Really good set that showed off the strong chemistry found between those four. Good show.