With Nocando and Sick Jacken
Culture Room, Fort Lauderdale
Friday, May 28, 2010
Besides the occasional token underground-rapper-on-a-nu-metal-tour (a la P.O.S.) there isn't much hip-hop going down at the Culture Room. It was a surprise to hear MURS would be making his only South Florida tour appearance there and with no cheesy screamo bands in tow. In fact MURS brought with him a strong supporting lineup of Project Blowed member/L.A. battle vet Nocando and Sick Jacken, 1/3 of the Cypress Hill family group Psycho Realm. Easily promotable tour cast aside, I had seen and heard very little about this show in the previous weeks and therefore had my doubts about there being a large enough turnout for a successful show.
My cool-guy skepticism was crushed as I arrived at 9 p.m. to -- despite
the monsoon happening outside -- an already half-packed house. If I
walked in blindfolded I could have told you this was an all-ages show
within the first 30-seconds (or at least 18+) -- kids aren't too cool
to crowd participate or sing and dance along to songs they obviously
have never heard before. A half an hour later, just before Nocando took
the stage, the main room and upstairs were packed out with eclectic
audience, looking much like someone had had drop a fun machine claw into
the middle of Warped Tour and grabbed 300-plus kids. And why not, with a
prolific catalog that stretches from a cold Def Jux basement in NY to a
sunny Long Beach studio collab with Snoop Dogg, MURS is the type of
rapper people play for their friends who don't like hip-hop when they're
trying to prove a point.
Nocando came on and crushed it. Equipped with tons of energy, an engaging delivery and some ultra-heavy beats, some original, some borrowed, he set an intense pace for the rest of the evening to follow. He rocked for about 25 minutes, jumping in and out of the crowd, freestyling, and commanding hands before ending it on a personal note, with the lights off, doing a song called "Flight Risk" written about a flakey ex. Fellow Los Angelean Sick Jacken, whose trademark alopecia and almost goblin-like, nasal tone make him hard to miss, brought a tougher, more street oriented style, and dropped a couple of classics from Psycho Realm's 1997 self-titled debut. When he wrapped up his set with a cosign and guest verse from MURS, the place erupted in cheers. On a side note, I'm 98 percent sure I saw Freddie Cricien, front man for NY hardcore legends Madball, head-nodding in the back.
Kind of anti-climatic, since he was just on stage, MURS took a 20 minute break before returning to start his set. There was much jumping around, literally and figuratively, as he scissor-kicked his way across stage and performed material off his many albums; including songs done with Slug, Living Legends and 9th Wonder and of course a couple off his most recent effort to date, Fornever. With very few breaks in the action, he plowed through a set that was well over an hour long and apparent in the crowds enthusiasm, it never got boring. People love MURS and his "relatability" as an individual might be just as important to his popularity as his music.
MURS makes everyone in attendance feel like a friend of his and pretty much everybody I talked to at the show had a personal experience to share about him. Even before his last song was finished a meet-and-greet line was forming at the merch table, which eventually stretched from the patio to the main room. All in all it was a "never-a-dull-moment" show at the Culture Room and to my delight after MURS dropped the mic and the lights turned up, a live Michael Jackson concert, circa Dangerous '91, came on the big screen as I exited.
P.S. If you ever go to the Culture Room make sure you don't try to stand on the stairs, apparently this is a really bad thing to do.