The Tribe and Big Cats Final Show at Triple Rock, 3/1/13
|Photo by Toki Wright|
with MaLLy, Toki Wright, and DJ Snuggles
Triple Rock Social Club, Minneapolis
Friday, March 1, 2013
It's been a good run for The Tribe and Big Cats, who have spent the last several years combining their collective momentum into a powerful force in local hip-hop. The support for the crew was evident in the turnout at the Triple Rock, which was full towards the beginning of the night and got steadily rowdier as the evening continued. It was a fitting send-off for a group that was clearly not ending their noise here.
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As DJ Snuggles spun tracks to gear up the crowd, opener MaLLy performed a tight set to the receptive audience, peppering his bass-heavy tracks with some anecdotal tidbits on the history of TTxBC and how he came to know them. It personalized the night and put some perspective and how their and his own careers have come along since their early days on the scene. When Rapper Hooks emerged from backstage for his contribution to MaLLy's The Last Great, "Bounce", the crowd's anticipatory energy exploded and the whole front of the floor went off.
MaLLy made sure to point out how important it was to contain some real content within your work, exemplified with some powerful performances of "My Lord" and "Unplugged" which hit with the same punch as his party tracks, and it was a good way to describe the whole of the night's bill. As he was leaving, a fan with X'd hands gave MaLLy a blunt while a girl on the other side of the stage gave him a lighter; ever the diplomat, he accepted, shook their hands, and walked off-stage.
When Toki Wright's band This Debris emerged to begin their set, a ripple through the audience set forth like something big was about to happen. Another fitting choice for the night, Toki brought rap personality to the live band's huge sound, as they mixed rapping, production, and live drums, bass, keys, and 808s to great effect. Toki's material lately has an intriguing combination of rap, soul, EDM and many more genre adaptations that give his set a flavor few others can achieve.
One of the highlights was a song consisting largely of stomps and trombone, with a melodic rap style that blurred all sorts of musical lines. With his painted face and persistent grin, the individual energy he displays are as entertaining as the music itself. In-between singing and rapping he would play the stage in interesting ways, including the usual bouncing and dancing but also pantomiming dice games and disappearing into the audience ("I don't exist... I don't exist...").
He debuted a track produced by Big Cats from a new project the two are working on, proof that TTxBC's split isn't the end of their work and the new directions they can move in are promising. The set was split between full band and classic rapper/DJ songs, with bassist Mayda's delightful "Good Girls" song dividing the two. With freestyles and DJing toward the end of the set, Toki brought the level of the club up and it stayed there all the way through.
Once TTxBC hit the stage, people were ready, and the crowd kept hands up and feet flailing dutifully. Rapper Hooks came out with blunt in hand spitting "Burn It Down" after Big Cats spun some preparatory Waka Flocka, and his natural air of chilled exuberance swept the stage. The set leaned heavy on material from Space, the group's final and best work which found a middle ground between Big Cats' ambient soundscapes and Hooks' smooth yet brash raps.
The sudden announcement of a split was disappointing but made some sense, considering the pair were seemingly moving in different directions: As Big Cats dropped some of his most airy and melodic pieces this past year, Rapper Hooks was adding more razor wire toughness and drug references to his lyrics. The contrast helped make Space such a strong listen, but individual focus seems like a smart move at this stage in each artist's development.
Rapper Hooks also got to debut some new work with the P.O.S-assisted "21 Grams" ("You only get a taste!" he said as he cut the song short), also produced by Big Cats, proving the pair will certainly continue working together despite disbanding. The Chalice's Lizzo and Calire de Lune joined Hooks onstage for some tracks, including the powerful closer "Rolling Stone", and the presence of creative family was strong in the room. (Hooks mother was also front and center all night.)
After roaring applause, TTxBC quickly returned for an encore which included the ever-enthusiastic Ayo Pete, who was present for the earliest incarnations of The Tribe, playing back-up. Going out on three of their strongest tracks with the whole of the original team culminated the night well. The night was a great celebration of a body of work but a welcome indication that the group on stage was anything but finished.
The Crowd: Consistently turned up. People thinned out when the performances were over, but the truly devoted who stuck around for Big Cats DJ set at the end all went ten times as hard to make up for the loss of bodies.
Random Notebook Dump: Someone in the audience asked me individually where each of the groups was from. She was surprised when "Minneapolis" was the answer each time.
Overheard In The Crowd: A surprisingly in-depth discussion of the merits of peeing on people during sex. "Once you're done, it's like, you have to clean that shit up!"
Burn It Down
Early Morning Pt. 3
Cheap Designer Heels
Make Your Mama Proud
NUN FUX GVN