Flatbush Zombies The Constellation Room Nov. 1, 2013
The past two times we've witnessed Flatbush Zombies have been at huge outdoor festivals put on by hip-hop monolith Guerrilla Union. They have always managed to rile up the crowd and perform as a punk band would, and each time, they have drawn enough of an audience to warrant their own small venue. Their psychedelically infused, unorthodox style of hip-hop has translated well to listeners across California, and for their first headlining tour, we were fortunate enough to have them book a show in the smaller, more intimate Constellation Room. This allowed for a better experience for all involved, with plenty of contact highs and mosh-pit injuries to go around.
Juice, FBZ's thick-bearded eccentric member, came out first, adorned in a thick sweat shirt and midnight-dark glasses and appearing like a hip-hop Zodiac Killer. He performed his part from "Minephuck," one of their most recent mixtapes' shorter standouts. To introduce his zombie comrades, he took on the role of wrestling announcer, as if his team were the rap game equivalent of wrestling superstars. As announced by Juice, Erick Arc Elliot and Meechy Darko came out to complete the triad just in time for renditions of "MRAZ" and the two-part song "Death."
The Zombies performed as you hoped the Wu-Tang Clan or Mobb Deep would have performed a couple of decades ago. Raw, menacing and bass-heavy boom-bap should be enacted as it sounds and make the listener feel something in a live setting, not as if someone is trying to give a seminar on how to be "spiritual, lyrical miracle." Classic Mobb Deep and Three 6 Mafia cuts can bring out the inner M.O.P./Onyx member within audience members, and though we don't want any brawls incited, there's nothing wrong with newer acts stirring up a little aggression in the crowd.
We're currently in a time when electronic music productions involving shiny things and laser beams take center stage over genuinely good performances, and it's comforting to know we can count on a hip-hop group to put on a great show outside of the realm of high production values.
Toward the conclusion of their set, the Zombies were all brawn and mosh muscle. There were stage dives into the crowd, headbanging sessions to Nirvana, and speaker-smashing tracks such as "S.C.O.S.A." and "Bath Salt." For an encore, they chose "Amerikkkan Pie," the particularly venomous opening track to their newest release. Before exiting, their words of advice to the crowd were simple: "Open your fucking mind." They came in a on high and left on an even greater one. They could have continued to go on for another hour, and there would have still been enough collective energy in the venue to last.
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The Crowd: Lots of young kids, and even a few parents in the back. This was probably the weakest night for drink sales at the bar in a long time.
Random Notebook Dump: Nowadays, young hip-hop fans will mosh to anything. Even if you're hearing Nipsey Hussle or YG, beware of the pit area.
Critic's Bias: This is my third time seeing Flatbush Zombies live within a short period of time. This has to account for something.