Eve at Epic, 9/1/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo courtesy of the artist
With Niles Miller, The Lioness, and GRRRL PRTY
Epic, Minneapolis
Sunday, September 1, 2013

Eve has been off the music radar for a while now, but her latest album Lip Lock finally saw release a few months ago after years of delays and setbacks. She's mostly focused on acting since 2002's Eve-Olution, but last night's performance at Epic proved her to be just as hungry as when she was Ruff Ryder's first lady.

The concert was a Ladies Appreciation night, with free entry for women before 10:30 and reduced prices for VIP, which made for a large and appreciated female presence in the audience. beyond that, the lineup was almost exclusively female artists, which is fairly rare to see. A quick set from Niles Miller, performing cuts from his recent project Bright Future, preceded a performance by the Lioness. Her sets get better every time I see her, but I wish she would move away from rapping over backtracks, especially since she doesn't need them. She makes it clear that she's skilled enough to tackle songs without backing vocals, but their presence takes away from the set overall. It was nice to see BdotCroc join her in the middle. Their combined energy is tight and it highlights a growing female rap sound coming from the Northside scene.

The inimitable GRRRL PRTY took stage next, and after some minor technical difficulties, launched into some pretty incredible new material. Lizzo, Sophia Eris, and La Manchita are individually incredible MCs that gel together effortlessly for a pretty amazing set. More raw in certain ways than the Chalice, GRRRL PRTY are a hard-spitting, take-no-shit group that worked hard to win over a somewhat tough crowd. Most of the few shows the group has done have come with a base of support from critics and the local hip-hop audience, but this crowd was largely unaware of their reputation and it was hard to tell how into it they were at first. Lizzo especially took this cue to spit harder and force her way into the favor of the people, and it was next to impossible for anyone to deny their talent and vigor after the set concluded. All the openers were perfect additions to the set and prepared everyone well for Eve's arrival.

Entering to the familiar sitar plucks of "Ruff Ryders' Anthem," Eve blew forth onto the stage to huge applause. Saying she hadn't played the city since 2000, she said she'd make sure the night was worth the wait. Behind her were a DJ, drummer, and keyboardist, who rounded each beat out with some crispy live sounds that added quite a bit to the performance. Eve's rapping was tight and forceful, and there wasn't much wear in her stage performance despite the long hiatus. Her trademark short haircut was replaced with long blonde hair, but the attitude that made her such a strong figure in late '90s rap remained even through her newer, poppier material. Lip Lock was unfortunately ignored by many critics but has a number of infectious songs, many of which stood out against those more familiar. But the classics like "Love Is Blind" and "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" definitely got the biggest crowd reactions.

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