Thursday, April 19, 2012

REVIEW: !!! & Shabazz Palaces @ The Talking Head Club, Baltimore, MD, 4/17/12

!!! @ The Talking Head, 4/17

On Tuesday night here in Baltimore, I hit The Talking Head Club (housed in Sonar) to see disco punk band !!! (aka Chk Chk Chk) and alternative hip hop group Shabazz Palaces perform. The room itself isn't particularly big, which made the turnout all the more surprising; it was a good turnout, but it seemed to be just under full capacity. These two acts are great on record, and, not surprisingly, put on great live shows, as well.

Shabazz Palaces @ The Talking Head Club, 4/17

Shabazz Palaces (Ishmael Butler along with multi-instrumentalist Tendai 'Baba' Maraire) opened the show and started their set by walking through the crowd towards the stage, shaking maracas along to the beat of a Middle Eastern-tinged instrumental piece blaring over the PA. Under the cover of a rich red light (see photo above), the duo played one song after another with hardly a single break. When you listen to Shabazz on record, you find their alternative blend of hip hop has a lot going on musically, so it's all the more impressive to find Butler and Maraire recreating each song live with pads, synthesizers, and live percussion -- Butler was even handling his own vocal effects. But while this is all telling of how talented these two are, there were certainly times where it might have been nice to see Butler focusing just on his rapping -- but not because he couldn't multitask or because his flow was off. Without many breaks, each song was sewn together with the next, leaving Shabazz Palace's set to feel like a journey of intellect and sonic exploration; they sound like the future of hip hop. Butler and Maraire bring the experimental, forward-thinking aspect of jazz to the forefront of hip hop, mixing everything from Middle Eastern music to noise pop; Shabazz Palaces make hip hop sound like the most boundless, eclectic genre of music around. Their live set isn't as easily interpretable as their records -- and there's a bit of room for growth -- but on Tuesday night they nonetheless proved that there's nothing quite like the sound of Shabazz Palaces in today's world. We're waiting on the future, but Shabazz Palaces are already there.

!!! @ The Talking Head, 4/17

!!! are currently touring their way to a recording studio in Texas to work on the follow-up to 2010's solid Strange Weather, Isn't It?. And if you missed the show Tuesday, you missed one of your best chances to get your groove on. Frontman Nic Offer stands somewhere between Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury, for both his dance moves, infectious onstage attitude, and overall charismatic stage presence. When he wasn't on the mic, Offer was grinding on a PA speaker, dancing around the stage, kicking the air, or jumping off the stage to dance with the audience -- there's really no dance party like a !!! dance party. Even those few people who might usually stand there motionless at a show seemed to be moving along to the beat, swept up in !!!'s energy. With the consistent, hypnotic momentum of disco, the sharp, ensnaring groove of funk, and the attitude of punk, the band's live set proved to be addictive, fun, and invigorating. The band, currently touring as a six-piece (they've had up to 8 in the past), was spot on, and even played around at times with the instrumentation of a few songs. For a band that's been around since 1996, !!! shows no signs of aging or slowing down. Tuesday night revealed they make the most of the moment, and it certainly shows in the agelessness of their sound. If you need to let loose or need a shot of encouragement, check out a !!! show where you can be you and dance all the clutter away.

Upcoming Tour Dates


19 Athens, GA @ 40 Watt Tickets *
20 New Orleans, LA @ Tipitina's Tickets * %
21 Baton Rouge, LA @ Spanish Moon * %
22 Austin, TX @ Mohawk Tickets *

* with support by Shabazz Palaces
% with support by Vockah Redu


17 Lyon, FRANCE @ Nuits Sonores Tickets
19 Seville, SPAIN @ Territorios Tickets
22 Bologna, Italy @ Locomotive Tickets
23 Roma, ITALY @ Brancaleone Tickets
24 Zagreb, CROATIA @ Boogaloo Tickets
26 Paris, FRANCE @ Gaîté Lyrique Tickets %
27 Toulouse, FRANCE @ Le Week End de Curiosités Tickets *

$ with support by Tripple Nippple

No comments: