View From the Front Row, 11/1/11
Backtracking a bit with the View From the Front Rows due to the volume of shows I've been attending recently, but I felt that this one from a week or so ago was definitely worth documenting. Last Tuesday, I forfeited the opportunity to see Prof in order to support the Gurp City homies at their "Panama Jack" Tour Jump-Off/Release Party in San Francisco. There was an all-ages Grieves show at Bottom of the Hill a short distance away, which had a packed crowd and a huge line around the block for it, so I was worried that the turn-out for Fist Fam and them would not be spectacular. Fortunately, the Elbo Room ended up getting fairly crowded with awesome people, including lots of true heads and longtime Gurp City supporters, and the show ended up being a grand old time in typical Rec League fashion. Hell, I even convinced some of my Understudies homies at the Grieves show to pass on the jailbait for a few minutes and check this show out.
BPos were the first group to perform, and they kicked their brand of traditional Cali boom bap well. They started things off by dedicating their set to Occupy Oakland, as the OPD had just broken up the encampments with tear gas and rubber bullets, and BPos' conscious lyrics seemed to speak to the movement well. D-Wiz, Goodword and Johnny Venetti were not as rowdy a live show as some of the other acts on the bill, but they had their verses down flat and barreled through their tracks with a very polished and energetic set. They started fashionably late and didn't have a very large crowd watching them, but it didn't seem to affect the quality of their performance any. Nice opening set.
There were a number of technical difficulties related the functioning of laptops and Serato before Grand Invincible came on, and though the wait was annoying the delay was ultimately worthwhile since the crowd grew substantially during the downtime. When Grand Invincible got the sound working right and were ready to play, they completely nailed it with my favorite set of the night. I'd seen Luke Sick and DJ Eons perform before at a Rec League & Lodeck show a while back and thought that their set was pretty good, but this time around everything just felt way more on point. Luke Sick's gruff vocals and confident laid back delivery felt effortless compared to a lot of the evening's MCs, and the simple loop-based beats complimented his style perfectly. Grand Invincible killed it on songs like "Crucifixion of Your Self" and "The Way We Revolt," but some of the best moments of their set came with unreleased joints that I hadn't heard before, which sounded like some serious heat. A really great performance that showed off Luke Sick's original style and that got me fiending for the new projects from Sacred Hoop and Rhyme Force Most Illin'!
Speaking of Rhyme Force, Rec League were the next to get up on stage and do their thing, all sunglassed out with 3D Star Wars shirts and shit. The details get a little blurry around this point (proof that this was, in fact, a Rec League set), but I do remember it being a damn good time. Some highlights included the always awesome "One More Shot," the Maclane-produced "What's Good," QM's drinking anthem "Party Hard," and the crazy hot bars of Richie Cunning's "1906." Surprisingly, this was one of the only Rec League shows I can remember where Rob Rush didn't perform his crazy shirtless "go time" dance routine, though I do remember one or two Rhyme Force Most Illin' verses. I'm guessing the dance song had to be cut due to time running super short near the end of their set, otherwise a petition needs to be started to bring it back cus' that song tends to be an awesome spectacle to see live! Typical illness from these guys, still one of the funnest shows you're likely to see from any Bay Area hip hop act.
Fist Fam were the last act to perform, and they brought their rowdy Southern twist to the evening's Gurped out sounds. Unfortunately, there were a lot of major technical difficulties during their set, which detracted from a couple numbers and made for a slightly less crazy show than usual, but overall it was still a good performance. These guys are one of the largest groups out of the Gurp City collective, boasting at least 6 regular members to their name, so the stage tends to get crowded with MCs eager to rip the mic when they play. Their songs were mostly fun and dance-able with some awesome Southern style hooks, with stand-outs including "How Can I Miss You?" and the hometown friendly sing-along anthem "S.F. Bay." Sadly, their strongest song "Screamin' Out the Grave" ended up skipping and they had to pass it over... listen out for that one next time you see them live, cus' it tends to be nuts. Equipto of Bored Stiff and one other dope Bay area MC showed up as unexpected guests and stepped on stage to kick some freestyles once Fist Fam's set was a wrap. They played for about ten minutes before the venue shut the sound off at 2 in the morning.
All in all, this was a super fun show. The best I've seen from the Gurp City guys since their epic 111 Minna art gallery performance with Z-Man and DJ Quest, which still stands out in my memory as a really amazing time. Check out the video of one of the more recent Grand Invincible numbers that impressed me below: