View From the Front Row, 11/2/11
Recently, I took a little musical holiday from my musical workplace to go hang out with some homies and see some shows out in the City of Lost Angels, Los Angeles CA. There was some sort of bad omen surrounding me during this trip where crazy shit would go down at everything I tried to attend, but in the case of the "Holograms on High" tour featuring 2Mex with Mine+Us & DJ Hoppa, the crazy shit was more of a source of amusement than frustration. This show took place at an event called El Social in a little Mexican bar known as Hermosillo Club, located in Northern LA a good distance from the spot my sister was staying at in Newport Beach. I picked my sis up and we both rolled out to bear witness to an ill show that found the talented MCs in question rocking the spot for maybe 6 attentive listeners.
Right off the bat, high marks go out to 2mex for being such a fun dude to chat with and vibe off of. Since my sister and I were two of the only people who drove a distance specifically to see this rap show, 2Mex relayed a bunch of really entertaining tour and music stories to us before the thing started. He even took us into the back of his van and played us some new songs from his upcoming album with Nobody, which he'd just gotten the master of and was excited to share. He told us about the songs where he channeled Prince and the songs where Nobody told him to rhyme like Young Jeezy. Sounded like some dope crunk shit from where I was sitting, looking forwarding to hearing the final product in full!
By the time my sister and I stepped back into the venue, Mine+Us & DJ Hoppa were on and were probably a few songs into their set. This was my first time seeing these dudes on their own, with my only other experience being a set with their group Broken Complex at Slim's in San Francisco, and they put on a really ill show for the tiny crowd of onlookers. Mine+Us was one hell of a funny and entertaining performer, breaking into "filthy" renditions of the Running Man and the Roger Rabbit after one song and ranting about how folks could join him for the smoking of some crack rock in the back alley after the show. But far from being just a comedian, Mine+Us rapped through his songs with the ease and energy of a skilled showman, delivering some excellent verses and nailing it on tracks like "Thinking About My Momma to a Funky Beat" and "Memorias De Mis Putas Tristes." DJ Hoppa held down the mix well for his part, smoothly transitioning between tracks and knowing when to rewind one or cut the beat off to let Mine+Us do his thing. Really fun set from these two, check'em out if you get a chance.
2Mex came on next and laid down his signature LA chop shop styles while DJ Hoppa continued to hold it down behind the boards. 2Mex mentioned beforehand that he was gonna rock the Hermosillo Club as if he was on the main stage for Paid Dues, regardless of the size of the crowd. He stayed true to his word and killed it with a full set of sick tracks, mostly taken from his recent full-length 'My Fanbase Will Destroy You." Just to keep the handful of people in the crowd guessing, 2Mex switched up the beats on a number of his tracks, offering fresh interpretations of his songs including an awesome rendition of "My Intro Will Destroy You" over a Zavala beat from the "Canciones Modernas" LP. Out of the tracks that were played straight, "Press Your Luck" was one of the most impressive to witness live, as the sheer amount of control 2Mex exerted over his vocal cadences was pretty amazing. There was a point in the set where DJ Hoppa threw on a really girly pop club beat and 2Mex started rapping and then freestyle singing for the hook, clowning about how Thursdays are karaoke nights at Hermosillo Club. Hoppa responded in turn by cutting off the beat for the end of the song and letting 2Mex freestyle sing acapella, which was hilarious to watch. Though I was afraid he wouldn't play it for such a small crowd, 2Mex finished his set with the ever popular Weezer-inspired "So Many More Words," which he gathered the tiny family of 6 fans in a circle for to scream the "say it ain't so" hook. He topped things off with a searing 3+ minute acapela that left those who witnessed it smiling. Great set, shame there weren't more people there to watch it!
But the night's festivities didn't end there. True to the bad omen surrounding my LA visit, there was one other act that was added to the line-up at the last minute that went on after 2Mex. The group in question, Icy Lytes, was a latin hip hop duo with one guy and one gal pounding out extremely high energy dance music with a pop electro kind of direction to it. Now, anyone that knows me knows that I'm just about the least self-conscious person you're likely to run into when it comes to dancing at hip hop shows, and that I'll dance in the front row to music I'm feeling regardless of whether there's 2 or 200 people there. But Icy Lytes was one of the few exceptions that left me in the downright awkward zone. These two were busting insanely elaborate syncopated dance routines and tossing countless genres of dance music into the mix while keeping things super uptempo for maybe 3 people who were watching them (myself, my sister, and 2Mex). The gal in the group flaunted a constant crip walk and pretty much tossed off a layer of clothing with each song. It got to a point where when the guy in the group knocked over a mic stand by accident, these two lunatics started running circles around it and jumping over it. Maybe in a sweaty dance club with a ton of people high on E this spectacle would have worked, but at the Hermosillo Club with nobody there it was about the most uncomfortable thing imaginable. The music wasn't exactly setting my spirit free either, but at least it was fascinating to watch in a painful sort of way, and gave us three spectators something to chuckle about.
Despite a little too much dance energy near the end of the night, this was a very good show and further proof that you don't need a million people to have a good time at a concert. It actually ended up being one of the better shows I went to in LALA Land, though whether that's a statement about intimate shows being better or about LA not coming through with any other good shows this season is up for debate. It's too bad there weren't more people at this one, I'm sure they would have enjoyed it.