Photos by Keegan Hamilton After back-to-back sold-out nights at Neumos , things are looking up for Geo and Sabzi.
Macklemore turned 29 at midnight on Saturday, but he didn't get to blow out any candles. Instead, he was gifted a rousing hour-and-a-half performance from Blue Scholars that included a second screening of their brilliant music video/stage production Cinémetropolis, impressive sets from his local hip-hop peers
Photos by Keegan Hamilton After back-to-back sold-out nights at Neumos, things are looking up for Geo and Sabzi. Spac3man The Good Sin and Brothers From Another, and a "Happy Birthday" serenade from a packed house at Neumos.
Highlights of the show included:
--The dynamic interplay between the Scholars' act and the clips projected behind them. If ever hip-hop was performance art, it was last night. At one point, the drop-down screen was engulfed in a gray Seattle sky just before the song "The Inkwell." Sabzi playfully slapped the screen and asked, "Where's the sun?" Later, the DJ asked the audience if something was wrong with the sound. "We're going to do a little test," he said, and cued up the near-deafening THX clip that plays before movies in theaters. Later, he repeated the joke but with a spoof from The Simpsons in which some of the characters' heads explode. It was funny, clever, and perfectly suited to their music.
--The crowd going absolutely bananas during the new song "Slick Watts." The hook on that song is infectiously catchy, the woozy synthesizers incredibly dance-friendly, and the rapid-fire Seattle neighborhood name-dropping enough to leave Geo nearly breathless and the audience roaring in approval.
--Sabzi's mother and father (one of the more adorable old couples you could ever imagine) taking in the show from the side of the stage. Their reactions at various points of the night were priceless. When Sabzi did a stage dive and crowd-surfed, his mom gasped and looked away in terror. When they played their old standby "The Ave," mom and dad both belted out the chorus and got their groove on. When the opening acts flooded the stage for "North by Northwest" during the encore, Dad hopped onstage and received a big, wet kiss on the cheek from his son.
--Macklemore joining the Scholars o stage for their song about weed, "Tommy Chong," and getting a bit of friendly teasing about his three years of sobriety. Sabzi offered him a hit of what looked (but didn't exactly smell) like a spliff. Also loved hearing Sabzi telling the audience "Don't do blow" and Geo responding, "Really? We're in the trees capitol of the world and you're telling people 'Don't do blow?'"
--Another hilarious moment during "Tommy Chong" when Macklemore was rapping at the very front edge of the stage. There was no barrier between him and the crowd, and his crotch ended up a few inches away from the face of a younger girl. She clapped her cheeks Home Alone-style and went into a full Beatles-level hysterical scream. Priceless.
--Opening act Brothers From Another. They were impressive. Not only did they command the stage and toss pouches of Capri Sun into the audience, they delivered whip-smart raps like "I'm like John Coltrane with a gold chain." Also, the shorter member of the duo is a dead ringer for diminutive Seattle hoopster Nate Robinson.
--Seeing Blue Scholars' evolution as performers. They've always been able to rock a show, but they've taken their game to a new level. Sabzi was all over the place, cuing up videos on his laptop, spinning the microphone around his neck, crowd-surfing, spazzing out, and playing hypeman. Geo stalked the front edge of the stage, and by the end of the night was drenched in sweat like a boxer who'd gone the full 12 rounds. With the amount of energy they bring to the stage, it's no wonder they inspire such a devout following.