The Foodchain at Bluebird Theater, 12/20/12
Brandon Marshall Myke Charles last night on stage at the Bluebird Theater in Denver.
Before 9th Wonder, Myke Charles and Spoke In Wordz brought energy to a room that desperately needed it. Prior to their opening track, "Raw Shit," a no nonsense declaration of swag, people were sitting on the floor, few people were even nodding their heads and there was just a general tone of indifference. Though Charles and Wordz invigorated the room to a degree, the atmosphere was still very blasé. During "C.L.A.P. (Cars, Ladies and Poetry)", the performers implored the audience to clap, but got little cooperation.
The two MCs played off each other well with very different but complimentary styles. Myke Charles has a varied flow that moves smoothly between new and old-school patterns. Spoke In Wordz is more traditional; he sounds a little like an early Eminem. The two are celebrating their very recently released EP, The Midnight Groove, and most of their material came from that.
Brandon Marshall Spoke In Wordz last night on stage at the Bluebird Theater in Denver.
One song that didn't was "Four In The Morning," which featured a clever pun -- four in the morning in a foreign land with foreign cars and other foreign luxuries. To close, the two performed "Otis Elliott," a remix of Kanye and Jay-Z's amazing "Otis." It's unfortunate when an audience collectively decides that they're too cool to make a ruckus, but even with the crowd's low energy level, these two, particularly Charles, had energy and charisma to spare.
DJ Chonz, in contrast to 9th Wonder, pulled out the stops to try to get the show pumping. He gave a really great performance, but it was mostly lost on this crowd. He opened with a super funky flip of the Jackson 5's "ABC." "This is too funky to sit down," insisted Chonz to the semi-reclined audience. The DJ showcased his skill with some high-speed scratching and record juggling on Gangstarr's classic "Full Clip," giving a secondhand shout out to the late Big L. He also dipped into Biggie's catalog to appeal to his subdued listeners and finally got a little bit of a reaction with Black Star's "Definition".
J. Carey opened the show to a very thin crowd. The talented singer began with an R&B sensibility. Songs like "Sorry" show his soft side, which is complemented well by his silky smooth voice and powerful, emotional hooks. During verses, he was solid, but he excelled in the choruses, where he had his own voice to play against or join with for an even stronger presence.
Brandon Marshall J Carey last night on stage at the Bluebird Theater in Denver.
As only a singer, J. Carey would be a passable musician, but he's also a very competent rapper with an excellent musical sense. Often, when he could have retreated to his obvious strength in singing for hooks, he provided lyrics very effectively instead, riding his beats' natural peaks and valleys for a much less contrived feel than your typical song.
As his last song, J. Carey performed an ode to the Mile High city. The hook didn't really work in the context of this show. It was a little off-rhythm compared to the rest of his material, though by itself it probably would have been fine. It did, however, provide some killer lines that truly proved Carey's writing ability, most notably a play on Shakespeare: "Lend me your ears before I cut the motherfuckers off."
"It's a cold world," said the singer/rapper before finally walking off the stage. It was a cold show, and he could have had a little more energy, but J. Carey did okay.
Personal Bias: I came in most excited for the Foodchain, but left most excited about Myke Charles.
Random Detail: The Foodchain's outro sounded a lot like Rush with synthesized guitar and bass to match. God, those guys have a diverse style.
By the Way: That some dudes were hollering "Whoo" like idiots when the Foodchain was trying to get a moment of silence for the Sandy Hook victims was borderline infuriating.