So last weekend I took the journey out to San Bernadino to see the Rokout festival. I got to hang out with a few cool people and see some acts that I’d been wanting to see for a while. Here’s a recap of what went down.
Now all the media for this event said that the doors were supposed to open at 2 and the show would start around 3. That ended up being a lie because at 2:30 the guys at the gate were telling us the will call line for tickets wasn’t even gonna be open until 4:30. So me and Nueve (one of the guys who won tickets to Detour) went to hang out and then come back. That was just the first sign of poor organization on the part of the promoters, but we got over it.
Finally we came back and got inside. Unfortunately there was no indication of who was playing when or which stage was which. Strike #2, but the only negative things I can really say about the whole night. We asked one of the sound guys if we could sneak a peak at his schedule and of course a line soon formed behind us once people figured out what we were looking at. Shortly afterwards I guess someone wised up and printed out some signs to hang in various places.
So who was turning it out? First on my list of acts to catch was Souls of Mischief.
Souls of Mischief
Now all the old school hip-hop heads and anybody who hangs out on the west coast scene knows these guys have been putting it down with the Hieroglyphics crew for a while. I saw them when I was in college do a show with The Pharcyde, Planet Asia and a few other westside veterans back east. To be quite honest I haven’t been following them all that much lately, but they definitely put on a high energy show. They did a lot of their classics as well as some newer material. A-plus did a track off of his upcoming solo joint that was pretty banging and quite honestly I feel like I’ve been missing out. I guess that’s what happens when you have to shift through as much music as I do on a regular basis, but never let it be said that I was totally asleep when it comes to this crew.
Souls of Mischief – ’93 til Infinity
Outside of the press for this event I personally had never heard of this guy before the show. Some of the people I was hanging with wanted to check him out though so I was down to see what he was all about. Subsequent research has revealed he’s another MySpace phenom… and we know how I feel about that, but he was entertaining even if gimmicky, I’ll give him that much. Things were already lagging behind on the hip-hop stage so while he was waiting to go on I wondered around backstage to see what was going on. I bumped into him and asked when he was going up and he said “right now”. He seemed pretty jovial and rather nice so I asked him to say hey to one of the girls we were hanging with since she was the one who wanted to see his show. He shook her hand and then headed up on the stage to do his thing. The guy is pretty nice and I guess the kiddies dig him so I’m not gonna hate, but you probably won’t catch me jammin’ to any of his tunes in the non-ironic sense anytime soon. However given the tone of his stage show and his lyrical content I think it’s meant to be taken ironically… if that’s the term the hipsters are using nowadays. I’m still wondering how much they pay the girl on stage to sit in a chair the whole time and seductively smoke her cigarette. I guess she mouthed the chorus to a couple of the songs here and there too.
Mindless Self Indulgence
Take one extremely hot bass player dressed like a goth catholic schoolgirl, a white female drummer who obviously listens to a lot of hip-hop and drum n’ bass (which is a turn-on in and of itself), a low key axeman and an overly eccentric frontman and you’ve got MSI. I’ve actually been hip to these guys for a few years now and their recorded antics alone were enough to make me realise they put on a live show that’s not to be missed. Up until now though I’d always been otherwise preoccupied whenever they came to a city I was near. Now given some of the more superfluous fills there obviously was a drum machine in use somewhere in the mix, but the sassy thing banging on the skins here surprisingly wasn’t using an electronic kit and didn’t miss a beat during those erratic change-ups. If you’ve ever really listened to MSI before you’re impressed. I almost wanted to go ask for her phone number. Of course Jimmy Urine was as fabulous as ever. Between busting juvenile rhymes about his penis and bellowing out in the trademark falsetto he offered plenty of hilarious commentary that just goes to prove they don’t take themselves too seriously. Their music is pretty danceable though and I like jamming to it. Their versions of “Big Poppa” by Biggie Smalls and “Bring the Pain” by Method Man are interesting if nothing else. Personally I’d love to see them again. I also wouldn’t mind getting a second chance to grab that phone number.
Mindless Self Indulgence – Joke
I actually chose to catch MSI over Z-trip for a couple of reasons. 1) I’ve been into them longer than Z-trip. 2) Even though I had as of yet to see either, given the circles I run in it’s likely I’ll be bumping into him quite a bit as time goes on. 3) His set was scheduled with a ten minute overlap and they were already running behind on that stage, so I was sure I’d be able to catch the end of his set at least. Of course Z-trip is a crowd pleaser before anything else and he definitely showed his knowledge of sample bases, pulling out original breaks and cutting up classic rock hits into new foundations for some of your favorite hip-hop vocals. The guy can DJ my party any damn time for sure. He had a lot of crowd interaction and even gave away free CD’s at the end of his set, but I wasn’t able to grab one because I was too busy hanging with the B-boys battling it out on the side of the crowd. Yes… real breakdancers putting it down for the culture. Apparently they were from some world champion crews, but the names slip me at the moment. I felt honored to be in the cypher, unfortunately it was too dark for me to get video. Here’s a little bit of Z-trip I found on YouTube though.
A couple years ago I put together a list of all the turntablists I want to see live before I die. I had crossed off pretty much all of them except for the Invisibl Skratch Piklz and seeing them as a whole is no longer a possibility. Q-bert alone though is enough to make up for it. I’m glad I didn’t get to see him until last because it’s gonna be hard to impress me more than he did. (Sucks for you Cut Chemist… But I’m sure you’ll still rip it up though). Anybody who wants to argue the validity of the turntable as a viable musical instrument of it’s own just needs to spend 5 minutes watching this guy in action to be thoroughly converted. I got right up in the front row for his set and every time I thought I could put away my phonecam he started doing more amazing shit. There were parts of the routine where he wasn’t even looking at the tables at all. Even Z-trip stood in the back of the stage just shaking his head in amazement. No wonder the Scratch Piklz got banned from DMC competition. His set was worth the price of admission alone.
The last act to perform on the hip-hop stage was Sage Francis (who a member of the crowd told me has apparently developed some beef with Murs recently given some of his antics at a previous show, but that’s all I know about that and I can’t verify any of it). Another first for me, I have to say Sage seems as if he’d be just as at home in a mental institution as on stage, but I’ll be damned if it isn’t a good show. Mr. Francis isn’t shy about expressing his political views or making fun of himself or the crowd. Add what was staged as an impromptu b-boy battle and an odd broccoli themed food fight with the audience and you’ve got a hip-hop show you have to see to believe. My man rocked it though and even performed some tracks from his soon to be released album “Human the Death Dance”. Unfortunately they stacked his set parallel to headlining act “The Prodigy” (which he had a few comments to make about), so the crowd was sparse, but dedicated. They even let him extend his set a few minutes given the enthusiasm of the audience and the fact that quite frankly there was nobody left to go on after him.
Sage Francis – Narcissist
I heard that their performance at Coachella sucked, so I didn’t feel bad about skipping out on half of their set to see Sage, but from what I caught of this set they definitely brought it. I timed my departure from the Sage Francis show perfectly and came in just in time to see The Prodigy perform their hits Breathe, Firestarter, and Smack My Bitch up. For those of you who don’t know they’ve actually been putting it down for over 15 years at this point and their catalog extends quite a bit beyond The Fat of the Land. If you’re into dance music at all and don’t check out the rest of their material you are definitely missing out. In honor of their performance I bring to you the uncut version of their controversial video for Smack My Bitch Up. Remember it doesn’t advocate violence against women… it just means “to do something with vigor“.
Those were the highlights for me, but of course there were plenty more acts that played such as CKY, Shiny Toy Guns, Adam F (who any other time would have been towards the top of my list), Grooverider, George Acosta, DJ Swamp, and Taxi Doll (the lead singer of which Nueve got to get chummy with after their performance). That’s it for now. More heat from The Alternakids is sure to come along with some exclusives and giveaways. We’re also in the process of picking our “Best of ’06” so get ready for that soon.