My friend Beatrice is from Seattle, and the Blue Scholars and Hieroglyphics are probably her two favorite hip hop groups, so I figured I owed it to her to go to this show, even though I don’t know either group’s music that well. I do know enough, at least, to know that I should get to know their music better.

This tour had about five acts, but I only arrived in time for the penultimate act, which was the Blue Scholars. I’d heard from all my Seattle friends that seeing the Blue Scholars live was amazing, but this isn’t Seattle, so it was a little bit of a letdown. The crowd was low-energy as hell, which was no good. Also, the mix was such that I could hear every word that Geo spat, which was a first at any show for me, but it also kind of worked against the group’s own good. First of all, it meant that the beats were low enough that only the bass was audible, which meant that all of Sabzi’s great, airy samples were brushed aside. Also, it called attention to some of the group’s weaker lyrical moments, and, more importantly, to the fact that Geo barely changed his cadence at all during any point in the show. The entire set was just a constant barrage of uniform meter. Overall, it was definitely a solid set, but, as the boring-ass crowd demonstrated, nothing to get excited over.

Hieroglyphics and pictures after the jump:

Hieroglyphics was a different story. Although they were performing without Del, it was clear from the outset that these were experienced performers. Hieroglyphics has been chronically underappreciated for ten years, but the beauty of that fact is that these guys perform because they love to do it. It was clear that the group was having as much fun as the crowd, which picked up considerably for Hieroglyphics’ set. Even though certain members of the group were starting to look a little old, every single MC brought heat to the stage, and the collective energy of the five MCs present was reminiscent of Wu-Tang, who have clearly been an influence on Hieroglyphics. They only did one verse of the only Hieroglyphics song I’ve listened to more than once, “Fantasy Island,” so I was hardly familiar with the music. Nonetheless, this show was live. In both senses of the word. Hieroglyphics are damn good performers, and I’m definitely going to be going back and listening to them more so I can enjoy even more the next time.

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