Click & Dagger in Chicago: Themselves @ Reggies

Themselves/Eyedea and Abilities/Violetness

Midway through Themselves set, Doseone said that “lots of bands have great space bars fingers.” He was referring to how many hip-hop and pop groups simply perform to prerecorded music instead of live instrumentation or DJs. There were few space bars hits at Reggies at this show and it was a refreshing change from many hip-hop and pop shows. Local act, Violetness started the show off with a brief 20 minute set that was received with mixed results from the audience. Violetness was joined by a cello player and a percussionist during her set that featured unique vocals that at times were reminiscent of Bjork. Her songs were enjoyable and percussive but seemed out of place considering the groups that she was opening for. However, in a different setting, her unique voice and experimental take on pop music would surely be appreciated by the audience.

After a 50 minute break, Eyedea and Abilities took the stage to a mostly full room. Eyedea was dressed more like an American Apparel model than a typical rapper. He was wearing a plaid shirt, tight jeans, Chuck Ts, and had a mustache and shaggy hair.  Near the end of the set Eyedea said, “you think that was rehearsed, our whole life is freestyle” and that’s really how the whole set felt. In between songs he would freestyle or talk at length, little in the set seemed like it was premeditated. While rapping, Eyedea would have seizure like movements as his head, arms, and body would shake as words flew from his mouth with amazing speed. Themselves joined Eyedea and Abilities for what turned into an extended jam between Abilities who was on turntables and Jel(from Themselves) on the MPC which is a 16 key device that holds different beats and samples. Their hour long set seemed to lose a bit of energy near the end which is understandable considering the intensity of their performance.

During the break before Themselves, the crowd began to thin, which was to the loss of anyone who left. Eyedea and Abilities set the bar high, but Themselves performed with more intensity and to an even more excited audience, despite the loss in numbers. When Doseone came on stage, he asked the audience how their teeth, hamstrings, and longest lasting relationships were going and told the audience that they would not be experiencing rock by numbers. They started their set with Back II Burn off of Crownsdown, the duo’s first album after seven years of focusing on their other band, Subtle. While Doseone and Eyedea both rap at fast paces and with unique rhythms, Doseone looks very calm and relaxed while rapping. The highlight of their set came when they played Oversleeping, also off of the new album. This song best highlights Doseone’s different styles of rapping and Jel’s abilities on the MPC. As the set progressed they focused more on their experimental music and Doseone became more talkative. While he is interesting to listen to, his use of some words excessively was bothersome. He put down some mainstream rappers by saying that Ice Cube is “fucking Mickey Mouse” and that Kanye West is a “pussy fart.” He also advised the crowd not to listen to backup dancers who become rappers on major labels, and that eventually every rapper will sell you toothpaste. While I’m not a fan of those that he was ripping on, the competitive nature of rappers is sometimes off putting. Except for Wayne Coyne, there aren’t many rockers consistently railing on each other. Despite this, Themselves put on the best hip-hop show that I’ve ever seen. I would be interested to see them again just to hear what comes out of Doseone’s mouth between songs. This combo tour of Themselves and Eyedea and Abilities has definitely been pleasing fans of underground hip-hop for the last couple weeks. – Review by Tim Bauer


~ by clickdagger on December 8, 2009.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: