+IMG_6041_reverb.jpg
photo by Nick Feldman
THEE Satisfaction and Shabazz Palaces
Earlier this week, L.A. crew Odd Future brought weirdo rap to the late-night talk-show game ;

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The Shabazz Palaces/THEESatisfaction Variety Show Last Night at Neumos

+IMG_6041_reverb.jpg
photo by Nick Feldman
THEE Satisfaction and Shabazz Palaces
Earlier this week, L.A. crew Odd Future brought weirdo rap to the late-night talk-show game; last night at a sold-out Neumos, Shabazz Palaces and THEESatisfaction brought the late-night talk show to the rap concert. The stage was set with a regal-looking wicker chair for our host Ishmael Butler, tonight presiding as "Lonnie Michaels," and an adjacent couch for guests THEESatisfaction. Percussionist Tendai Maraire, in sunglasses and sometimes speaking through a voice-modulating effect, stood to one side behind his drums, getting his Paul Shaffer on.

The banter flew by too fast for thorough note-taking (at one point Ish asked Cat and Stasia to explain what their phrase "psychedelic space rap jazz" meant, and they politely declined), but you can imagine a live version of the easy, hilarious chemistry evident in the excellent Shabazz/THEESat interviews arranged by Andrew Matson.

Ish introduced what looked like the same pair of dancers who had joined them for their Neumos debut just over a year ago by claiming that they'd won their spot on tonight's bill (dancing for the patois-infused "Hottabach") in a competition with "6,000--no, 60,000" other groups. Midway through the show, Ish conducted a Q&A with audience members, who asked about the new album's release date (May), where Shabazz gets his sample sources, whether he was single, and if he would take his jacket off for the ladies ("No and no"), what it would take for Seattle rap to break out nationally ("It is, man!"), and finally none other than Kimya Dawson asked if she could get a "sandwich hug" from THEE Satisfaction (I wasn't close enough to see if she got it or not). For one final surprise, "Lonnie Michaels" welcomed two more guests to the stage, Megan Jasper of Sub Pop (to which Shabazz recently signed) and Shabazz manager/all around 206 hip-hop pillar Jonathan Moore. "I hear you guys are getting into hip-hop now," he asked Jasper. "Well, we're gonna do a little demo tape kind of performance thing."

And really, all the showbizness fun was just party-all-nasty icing on the rent-money cake of a combined Shabazz Palaces/THEESatisfaction concert, so let's talk a little about that musical performance . . .

Shabazz spent much of the show performing behind a cloud of fog illuminated with colored lights, while THEESatisfaction took more to the front of the stage. Shabazz led with their most accessible track, "A Mess" ("I'm just like you . . . "), and all their older songs--"4 Shadows" (with its requisite Dougie guest verse), "Find Out," "32 Leaves," "Kill White T," "Blastit"--sounded well-worn and just right, the sound dialed in nice and booming with bass. Even familiar THEESatisfaction songs (like the outstanding combo of "Bisexual" and "Pause") sounded as though they were being punched up live, heavier in spots that might have once been fluffy, with Ish adding extra digital bang and rattle on his MPC. And then there was the new shit. I've begun trying to wrap my head around the stuff here (the phrase "future rap" is about the best I can do so far), and honestly last night's show was overwhelming enough that there's not much of coherence I could possibly add. Maybe it's like they said in that last full song before the outro chant of "Black is us/me/we/you": "If you talk about it, that's a show/If you move about it, that's a go." Shabazz and THEESatisfaction were moving about it last night, and today's talk is cheap in comparison. This combo is simply the best hip-hop in Seattle right now, and luckily for anyone who missed it last night, they're just getting warmed up.

 
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