Show Review (Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver)

    Ah, Vancouver, land
    of Canada’s worst drug problem and, therefore, a very high crime-rate.
    It’s only natural, then, that every year at around the same time, my
    bag is stolen from my car along with my headphones and a slew of promos
    that would have minimal resale value at any of our many downtown pawn
    shops. I mean, who’s going to want a copy of the latest Takagi
    Masakatsu CD or the Mae Shi DVD?

     

    [more:]

     

    My
    stolen bag was the bitter after-thought of the evening we enjoyed April
    21 at the Commodore Ballroom, but luckily none of the artists’ on the
    bill had my bad luck. Boasting a nearly all-Quannum lineup (excluding
    Fatlip), the idea of Blackalicious as headliner was a technicality considering the talent at hand, especially after it was nearly upstaged by the opening acts.

     

    Pigeon
    John, whose hotly anticipated Quannum debut is scheduled to drop this
    summer, owned the stage with his cornball gimmickry and merciless flow.
    Combining slapstick comedy with clean (as in expletive-free) hip-hop,
    Pigeon John’s show was entertaining, if not slightly over-the-top.
    Always a crowd favorite, “Life Goes On” was a highlight to this
    consistent and fast-moving act.

     

    But
    it was Fatlip who stole the show. Starting his set by explaining that
    his crew couldn’t make it across the border, he confessed that he
    didn’t feel comfortable on stage alone and invited an audience
    participant to join him. What seemed like it would be a short stay
    ended up being the entire set, where the dude posed for his friends and eventually shared the mike on “Passing Me By.” Fatlip’s performance was all over the place. He spat zealous rhymes from TheLoneliest Punk
    and some older Pharcyde material. Without a deejay turning tricks in
    the background, Fat Leezy’s set was chaotic and raw — a perfect
    combination to match his troubled persona.

     

    Lifesavas
    set was comparatively slicker, with Blackalicious’s Chief Xcel manning
    the turntables. As the crowd around the stage tripled in size, the two
    emcees held the audience captive with their able rhymes and soulful
    melodies. The set covered material both old and new but definitely
    served to promote their upcoming Gutterfly LP. Nonetheless, it was “Resist” from Spirit in Stone that had the crowd in an uproar as they simultaneously denounced Bush.

     

    Blackalicious’s set opened with an energetic turntable routine from Chief Xcel, and Gift of Gab
    burst out with a rendition of “Alphabet Aerobics.” After that, the crew
    demolished a lengthy set of material, drawing equally from Nia, Blazing Arrow and The Craft.
    Peppered with treats like a freestyle with Lifesavas’ Vursatyl, the set
    pleased long-time fans and newcomers alike. Though it was not as
    energetic as the opener’s sets (let’s face it, Gift of Gab is an
    extremely large man), it was the perfect end to a night-long party that
    had me smiling for the rest of the night. That is, at least, until I
    saw that my bag was missing.

     

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    Blackalicious Web site (streaming audio)

    Quannum Projects Web site (streaming audio)