There has been a sudden rash of great hip-hop acts playing in Charlottesville recently. First it was Blackalicious (and if you don’t already have The Craft
, get thee to iTunes now) and last night Lyrics Born, formerly of Latyrx. Jeff and I were talking on the way home about how surprised we were that these acts were playing here in Central VA, and decided it was mostly attributable to the new Satellite Ballroom
venue off the Plan 9 record store on the Corner. (Next up at Satellite Ballroom: The Perceptionists on Nov. 7). It’s pretty hilarious when these guys give props to Charlottesville and the “wild Virginia motherfuckers” in the crowd. Hearing shout-outs to the heart of the Confederacy is always an incongruous experience.
Anyway, last night’s show was easily the best hip-hop show I’ve seen, and probably second only to David Byrne for the best post-law school concert I’ve attended. To my surprise, LB took the stage with a full band (drums, bass, guitar, and keyboards) and no DJ. I hadn’t been aware of much live instrumentation on his records, so I did not expect a band, but I was amazed at how well they were able to recreate the music from both Later That Day and the re-mix album Same Shit, Different Day. In what was probably the highlight of the night for me, the band abruptly switched from the original Stop Complaining to the re-mix version right in the middle of the song. Other highlights were Shake It Off (the opener), Bad Dreams (in the encore), and Callin’ Out, which really got the small but enthusiastic crowd into the show. More than most artists, LB really straddles the line between rapping and singing and last night’s show felt a lot like a rock concert at times, yet there is something quintessentially hip-hop about LB’s music, even when he’s singing and being backed by a live band. All told, the show was one of the most energetic and plain fun I’ve ever seen.
If I have any one gripe, it’s that they don’t seem to have figured out the sound system at Satellite Ballroom quite yet. The band sounded great, but LB’s voice was often distorted, which was a shame because he seemed to be in great form. Maybe I’m just getting old, but I also wished they would have turned the volume down a little. My ears haven’t been ringing like this since my Slayer days, and I couldn’t hear a thing Cleo said to me this morning on the way to school. I also remember being underwhelmed by the sound quality at Blackalicious, and I hope they get all the kinks ironed out soon because they’re booking some incredible talent.
Finally, a quick word about the opening act, Pigeon John, who appears to have about four albums out and just got signed to Quannum
(the collective that includes Blackalicious, Lifesavas, Lyrics Born, and a bunch of other great acts). He put a great show himself and was really able to pump up the crowd while maintaining an ironic and hilarious persona. He was also kind enough to come out between acts and sign CDs for me and Jeff, so you should all check him out so that he blows up and we can make a lot of money on E-bay. We’ll let you know how the albums sound after we’ve had a chance to give them a listen.
Here’s the rest of Lyric Born’s tour schedule
(click on the “Shows” tab). He’s in Atlanta tonight, and then swinging through Louisiana and Texas before heading back out West. Definitely catch him if he’s coming your way.