Damn, was there good energy inside of Neumos last night. I was lucky enough to catch the final night of the long-delayed Common Market/Blue Scholars gig and I'm glad I was in the building. I was surprised that so many people I know waited until Monday to catch this. I'm not sure if it's because the first nights sold out too quickly, or if folks just wanted to see Dyme Def. I personally think it was the latter, and they absolutely killed it opening up for everybody last night.
The trio of local hip-hoppers had the crowd especially amped by 9:30 (which is either really early or really late to be amped for anything) with their high energy raps and bounce-house like stage presence. The dudes were all over the place keeping the crowd engaged. The group's DJ, BeanOne, is one of my favorite producers in the city and his ear for cranking out good beats is stellar. They only performed for 30 minutes but they set the bar high as far as MCing goes and on the strong energy tip. My favorite song of their's was "Def To the Record" and they made sure people felt it. Why crowd's at Neumos get such a bad rep is beyond me. The shows I've gone to at that venue have mostly been roudy, raucous affairs, and last night's was no different.After Dyme Def exited, Macklemore came up next with a violinist (Andrew) and trumpeter (Omar) behind him and the super talented Ohmega Watts as his DJ. He came on stage like he'd been shot out of a canon. Despite rhyming at near breakneck speed, every word of his was clear and poignant as he rapped on a number of topics from hip-hop saving his life to race relations in Seattle to being American. I won't delve to deeply into his semi comical "I'm an American" and it's opening line about wanting "to drop a deuce and wipe it up with Bin Laden's towel." I got the tongue and cheek reference. But I did notice my Muslim friend Haneen in the front row wearing hijab cheering on until then, and looking like she needed a serious hug afterward. Still, Macklemore did it a good job last night and definitely earned major style points for rocking hard for 45 minutes or so nonstop.
He did have some help though as Champagne Champagne came on stage with him and rapped for a bit. One crazy moment happened when the group's lead MC, Pearl, dove into the crowd and nobody caught him. That shit wasn't right! Even Macklemore had to comment that karma's going to catch up to everyone for that...but Pearl bounced back up, and apparently was walking on people's shoulders shortly afterward.
One of the biggest surprises of last night is that Sportn' Life Records had a mini showcase at the start of Common Market's set. Spaceman came out first, then Fatal Lucciano (with his pants sagging way too low) and D Black and I feel like it was good to see them rocking a sold-out show at Neumos. Plenty of people might not have heard of any of those rappers, especially on Capitol Hill, so to see them kicking quality verses was good. And it wasn't too hood either. They did a good job. D Black is a beast...like a Seattle version of Freeway but surlier.
Ra Scion was on stage rapping with all three of those dudes and something about his flow struck me as odd. A bit over calculated. Not just his rhymes but his voice and urban dialect. Hard to explain. I won't knock it. But it caught me off guard. I was interested to see how much gas he'd have left after three days but he was still going hard. His voice sounded a bit hoarse, naturally, but he and Sabzi both appeared to be giving it everything they had.
After Common Market finished, it didn't take long for Blue Scholars to hit the stage, with the return of Sabzi obviously, and send everyone home smiling. I chatted with Geo beforehand and he mentioned that "this is the grown people's show," a reference that the first two nights were all ages and different. I was surprised at how much stamina he had left. They performed for over an hour and their set had that down home, almost block party style feel to it. They jumped through a variety of songs, some old, some new, and it was a good time. No matter if it was your first time catching them or your 20th, nobody looked bored. They capped off their impressive performance with one of the longest versions of "North by Northwest" they've ever done: Champagne Champagne, Nam, the Sportn' Life family, Macklemore, and Grynch all got in on it. Spaceman dove into the crowd and they actually caught up. It was a hell of a start to St. Patrick's Day.