Attending concerts for years instilled my assumption that hip-hop sucks live. I know, I know some rap shows can be truly inspirational; the Beastie Boys, Jurassic 5, Sage Francis all come to mind. More recently, Del the Funky Homosapien ripped up the Social in Orlando while simultaneously downing a bottle of Patron. That fact helps convince me fellow members of the Hieroglyphics click, Souls of Mischief, may be capable of the same. Chill beats, and jazzy, trip-hop samples mixed with unique flows translate better in the right venues. My hope that this show will be special is enhanced when I find out it is upstairs in The Firestone’s more intimate V.I.P. area.
When I make my way in at 10:30 p.m. the joint is empty. I notice a makeshift Jon-Benet fashion show-type stage crammed in the corner between the men’s crapper and the bar. My first concern is the sound and how it will project into the “L” shaped second floor. No worries though, no live music is going to start for another hour and a half! Currently, I and maybe five others are being entertained by the DJ stylings of Park Ave. CDs own Kitty Bat – maybe the highlight of the evening.
Midnight rolls around and the crowd reaches its apogee ‚maybe 70 people. The first act takes the “stage” and my fears of inept audio ring true. Neither the music or vocals are discernable and small groups of bewildered, disaffected hipsters mill about to the droning thuds of inaudible hip-hop. After the dread-lock guy comes out, another unintelligible dread-lock guy, followed by two guys in matching neon pajamas (not to be funny, but to be cool I think. Very Kid n Play). Usually one attending a rap show can figure out who is on stage because they say their name 400 times, but if they did, I couldn’t hear it. It is about 1:30 a.m. and the din of Thursday night ravers below bleeds through upstairs.
It is now 1:45 a.m. and the Souls of Mischief feel properly warmed up and drunk. They come out and despite the sound difficulties (feedback even Jimi Hendrix would be proud of) tear through their set with the most professionalism of any act so far. By 3:00 a.m. the group’s Patron bottle is empty which is probably what prompts A-Plus to spark up on stage. Finally, with the opening notes of “93 til Infinity” I am instantly taken back to my senior year and partying with my friends. Thanks A-Plus! This was the only remotely recognizable moment for the whole show, further sustaining my former assumption. What do you want for $5?
Article originally appeared in REAX issue #13, May 15 2007