DOOM & Live Drummer at The Sugar Club, Sunday 23rd March 2014

It’s often as interesting to see what the demographic for a certain gig is going to be as it is to see the performers themselves, and underground hip-hop icon DOOM is such a gig. Everybody knows that the general hip-hop-going audience is notorious for being [enter your own sweeping generalisation here], but what are we to expect from the fans of a guy who raps more about Godzilla and Aqua Teen Hunger Force than he does about guns and hoes?

As it turns out, the audience’s most defining characteristic happens to be its patience as three hours after doors were supposed to open the headliner has not yet appeared. Three hours; that’s enough time to watch The Good, The Bad & The Ugly, or you could watch Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein back-to-back and have enough time to ring your mother and find out who died recently. You could watch Un Chien Andalou NINE TIMES in the space between arriving at The Sugar Club at the agreed time and actually catching a glimpse of the iconic mask of the headline performer, is the kind of thing you may be thinking if you’re a certain kind of person.

In the meantime Mo Bonix takes to the stage a good bit after the allotted time of 9 O’Clock and he sure knows how to get the crowd going. Granted it’s mostly because he gives away free CDs in the middle of his set. But still, it’s nice to have that bit of life injected into the room for a short while, even if it’s nigh on impossible to make out what he’s actually saying, which you’d think would be the point of a form of music that is based mostly on rhythm and lyrics.

When Mo Bonix heads off though we’re treated to another languorous excitement-draining wait, and we won’t belabour the point by trying to represent in writing the feeling of just how long it took the gig to get going. Although the rumours of DOOM sending someone else to perform for him have been well circulated in recent years it did seem for a while like they were going to take it to the next step; that he might not show up at all, even in the body and voice of a completely separate human being.

But arrive he did, and with his live drummer hammering away to the side of the stage and his hype man shouting things, the ennui manages to lift quite quickly. Then the iconic mask floats through the ocean of arms onto the stage and things really take off. The live drummer does wonders for this show and their shtick for the night is that DOOM supposedly doesn’t know what tracks the drummer (who also controls the playback) is going to play next. The call-response of Hoe Cakes conjures up all that dissipated energy and DOOM does some dance in which he leans to one side, starts flapping his arms and then limps quickly in a circle. It’s damn entertaining.

The hype man fulfils his purpose tenfold; after an hilariously shambolic attempt at jumping into the crowd in which he bum-rushes the unjustly confident multitude at stage front, he spends most of the rest of the gig taking selfies. After running through a few tracks from the ‘Madvillain’ album including that old favourite Rhinestone Cowboy, the gig comes to an abrupt end, because when you don’t start ’til less than an hour before curfew your gig ain’t gonna last too long either.

Who’da thunk it? Going to a hip-hop gig and then it turns out the MF onstage is the one who sticks his hands in your pockets and robs ya. The whole show is genuinely as blink-and-you’ll-miss-it as that. After the initial burst of energy when they first arrive on stage the life drains slowly but steadily, coupled with the unhelpful fact that the vocals and the beats are heavily distorted by loudness. It’s a far inferior product to what we get on the records, but a couple of grand for an hour’s work ain’t a bad day at the office for DOOM. Look out for his ‘Easy Money’ Tour, coming to a town near you soon. There’s also t-shirts and stuff in the lobby.

MF Doom Photo Gallery

Photos: Mark Earley

Mo Bonix Photo Gallery