Sunday, June 04, 2006

The Coup Comes to Chicago

Just about 24 hours ago, I was in the Abbey Pub over at Grace and Elston on Chicago's northwest side to see everyone's favorite hip hop revolutionaries, The Coup.

As expected, they put on a bangin' show, despite the fact that Pam The Funkstress was not around to tear up the wax (I later learned through their My Space Blog that she's only joining the tour for select cities).

Here's a quick rundown of the night:

The ADP and I roll in a little after 9PM. Not much later, the first act of the evening starts, a group named Royce who I've never heard of. The two MCs have decent flow, but I'm not feeling the band that's backing them up. One of the dudes on the mic pokes fun at the bassist's shiny silver jacket, calling him a baked potato. The ADP notes, "Future jackets via 'Star Trek' should stay in the past." We wait out the set over High Life and curry fries, watching with a mix of amusement and amazement that this group, despite their low profile, have accumulated themselves the rapt attention of a trio of chickenheads.

There's a short break before the next group, Abstract Giants, comes on. I've never heard of them before either, but they grab my attention with their first song. They have one more rapper than Royce, and their lyrical delivery is more integrated and practiced. Also, their band brings a sound which has more fullness to it, and I find myself enjoying the music, despite the distracting resemblance one of the MCees shares with that dude from Insync (or is it Backstreet Boys?). This guy performs in bare feet, prompting the ADP to comment, "It's just sad that some people can't afford shoes." Not far from the stage, the representative from Royce who teased his own bassist is working a chickenhead. You go, Royce.

During the ensuing break, I am happy to see the roadies bring up a couple of turntables. I like the use of live instruments and all, but sometimes you need to scratch that vinyl itch. The man on the wheels of steel goes by DJ True Justice, laying the tracks for T-Kash and some other cat whose name I don't catch. I definitely catch that they rep the Guerrilla Funk music label, since it's emblazoned on the backs of their jackets, and since they aren't afraid to name-drop labelmates Public Enemy and Paris multiple times. Regardless, the crew performs with plenty of energy, and I dig their style. Noticing another tenuous celebrity resemblance, the ADP kids that "Carlton Banks has gained some serious weight," and on a trip to the restroom, I observe that the dude from Royce is losing out on the groupie tip to some tall, skinny guy in a White Sox hat.

By the time The Coup gets on, it's nearly 1AM, and the crowd is pushing capacity of the small venue. The turntables have been removed, and a live band is back (2 guitars and a drummer). They kick things off with "Everythang," the first track on Party Music, and after the band belts out the first few bars, Boots Riley marches in to rawkus cheers and applause. He's wearing a black, long-sleeve button-down with bright flames stiched across the chest and back, and the afro looks like it could have four full inches to it. He shimmies and struts up and down the stage, spitting rhymes in that distinct drawl of his. The audience eats it up.

The set consists of 20 songs, roughly equal parts Party Music and Pick a Bigger Weapon, with a sprinkling of tracks from Steal This Album. On many of them, Boots is accompanied by a vocalist named Silk E, who does more wild gyrating than actual singing. The band plays some of the songs quite a bit differently than how they were recorded in studio, and a few of them are abbreviated versions. They come in rapid succession, with only a pause or two, like when Riley stops to give a plug to the Not Your Soldier cause. The group leaves the stage briefly before wrapping up with a two-song encore of "Ghetto Manifesto" (a personal favorite, although I'm disappointed that the "funky guitar" lick is absent despite the presence of an actual guitar) and "Wear Clean Draws."

The crowd filters out pretty quickly afterwards, and we have a chance to say hi to Boots back by the merchandise table. We compliment him on a job well done, and when I ask why they cut "Jesus the Pimp" short, he responds that we'd be there all night if they didn't. It's damn late as it is, so we take a final cell phone camera photo (I'll post it if the ADP can ever figure out how to send photos from his phone; trust me though, it's sweet) and bounce from the spot.

The final word from my companion: "Best hip hop show I've been to in ten years, including Dilated Peoples, Wu Tang Clan and Kanye West."

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4 Comments:

Anonymous 40oz. said...

Alright, I've read your review and the Trib's, so it seems like it was a good show. But neither of you answered my burning question. Did they play "Not Yet Free"?

3:33 PM  
Blogger Mix76 said...

Wow! Better than Dilated, Wu Tang and Kanye, huh? Impressive. Can't wait to see the pic man.

8:02 PM  
Blogger OG said...

40oz.: as far as i could tell, no, but with some songs being abbreviated and played different live, there were a couple i couldn't identify. thanks for exposing my journalistic shortcomings. speaking of which, the trib inexplicably mentions the "funky guitar riff" on ghetto manifesto, but as i wrote, it wasn't included.

10:21 PM  
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8:40 AM  

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