Shabazz Palaces and THEE Satisfaction at Twisted Pepper, Friday the 16th of November 2012
We don’t get many American hip-hop acts in this part of the world. Least of all alternative hip-hop acts. Having two of the most exciting of these acts around performing on the same night feels a little gluttonous; surely we should ration these treats out? Nah, may as well binge while there’s something on offer.
THEE Satisfaction come out at 9.40pm to a full, but not sold out, Twisted Pepper. With the beats are handled offstage, Stasia Irons and Catherine Harris-White take up a mike each to showcase their complimenting vocals. If one is rapping the other is providing surprisingly smooth backing. The beats are eclectic and include a discordant siren. “How eclectic and discordant,” I think. The band think differently. “Hold on, hold on, that’s not us.” There’s an alarm going off somewhere backstage.
The alarm gets quickly sorted and we’re straight into a truly enjoyable hour. The two women are effortlessly cool: shades, beanie hats, backing singer-style hand movements, Doo-wop slides to the side and back into the mike. All with a backdrop of various cult – or possibly just crap – black films (including Poetic Justice with 2Pac and Janet Jackson a film that TV3, in their early years, seemed to show at least once a week).
But it’s vocals that are key here. The crowd has heaved forward to acclaim each perfectly delivered line. If the quality of a gig was judged on how far back you get pushed by an enthusiastic crowd, then this gets a perfect ten (feet).
After the simplicity of the opening act, Shabazz Palaces come at things from a completely different angle. Palaceer Lazaro handles the majority of the vocals and most of the equipment that requires a power source. Beside him Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire appears to be attempting a record for most different percussion instruments to be played in a single night. And he’s great on all of them. They make a strong entrance, straight into Youlogy, one of the standout tracks from their debut album ‘Black Up’.
Twisted Pepper makes a great venue for them too, it’s heaving and it’s a sweatbox; the walls are dripping with condensation (live music is one of the few activities where excessive sweat is a good thing). This could develop into one of the gigs of the year. That hope is given a further boost by the return of THEE Satisfaction at around the forty minute mark. The two acts compliment each other perfectly and it’ll be exciting to see them collaborating in the studio in the future (as we’re assuming they will).
But the tracks with THEE Satisfaction prove to be the peak. The crowd has, for reasons unknown, dispersed a little and some of the intensity has ebbed out of the night. An encore rallies the crowd a little but it’s not to be one of the all time great visits to Dublin from a hip-hop act.
But it’s still a memorable, enjoyable night. Everyone who saw them on Friday will be nagging their friends to listen to both acts if they haven’t already. Next time they’re in town we’ll hopefully have more people in tow and help make it one of the great nights.