Sunday, March 4, 2007

"Live" Rap Goes A Long Way (Lyrics Born, The Coup @ The Fillmore, Mar. 1)

The time the doors of the Fillmore Auditorium opened to the time the last Frisco hipsters exited the building was about 5 hours- a time allotted for just two bands of the more than 50 performing at this year's Noise Pop festival. The time it took for the bass, drums, guitar and keys to be mic'd and properly tuned was made up for, though, as the live bands backing both indie hip-hoppers Lyrics Born and the Coup provided a huge slab of funk that would dominate any James Brown or Parliament sample known to man.

The Coup took the stage about an hour late, but judging from the always apparent smell of joint smoke in the air, this was probably not a care to anyone in the building. When Coup frontman Boots Riley did finally step onstage, he took the audience on a bit of a time warp. Backed by a classic horn sample and a syncopated motif, one could not help but think of Shaft as Riley shook his bulbous head of afro at the outset of his group's recent hit "My Favorite Mutiny".

Lyrics Born, unlike the act before him, obviously did not intend to inject much political thought into his stage time, and he would rather just let the funk build to the breaking point. He will probably need to think of some other ways to get the crowd going other than turning on the house lights in the middle of a set, but his showmanship on this night equated to a deafening Fillmore crowd. And, despite of this minor annoyance, his other talent might have made showmanship obsolete anyhow- those who stayed for the encore of his set would have witnessed a rhyme speed that would put Twista to shame.

Although the sound grew a bit too opaque and felt admittedly a bit tired by the end, it was nice to know that at any given time they occupied the stage either LB or Boots might just stop their rapid-fire wordplay and step aside for a blazing guitar solo.

--Ross Moody
(Photo: Lyrics Born rocking the mic)

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