Photo by Amy TheligOhNo, Peanut Butter Wolf
Detroit Bar, Costa Mesa
Saturday, Nov. 20
Mr. P.B. Wolf wasn't as schizo as BadMeaningGood or as hyper as Madlib on Blunted in the Bombshelter, though Stones Throw resurrectee Pookie Blow did get a cameo, but then again, it was about 11:30 and the buildup for OhNo was starting to gnaw at its own leg. People would point him out—a tall guy in a baseball cap, pretty close to most of his photos—and say, "He looks like his brother." And because his brother is Madlib, people knew what his brother looked like. He finally got set up around midnight, with DJ Romes glowering behind the turntables and Oxnard buddy Roc C in a Bulls jersey at stage right, and then—like the song goes—they stomp that shit (e.g., "WWF-style smackdown!"). OhNo's as agile as Ox producee Wildchild (or even as twitchy as Medaphoar), and he's got a forceful, level delivery that piles up all over the stage; sideman Roc C had plenty of gusto, but OhNo had some kind of deliberate-but-manic style, too, flapping around in a giant white T and still finding something to talk about between songs. DJ Romes got two quick moments to scratch, one over just a beat tape, and then pulled another song out of the theme to Castlevania or possibly Ghosts and Goblins (even if OhNo's interviews don't start out talking about video games, that's where they finish) and even set up a little Madlib Invazion (a Madlib beat with OhNo on top). Plus, there were lots of shout-outs to OC (and the shiny-shirted dudes who like to dance there loved it), and right toward the end of the set came actually-from-OC Aloe Blacc (who had been happily hanging out in the crowd all night) to do his part for "The Getaway," just like he does on the album. All the laid-back smoothness that makes the studio version stretch out and relax was torn up by the Detroit PA; even DJ Romes' clipped "Get-away/get-away-get-away" came out a little heavy. But Aloe and OhNo align well together, OhNo tipping out syllables ("Explosions and bruises and contusions/and everybody else useless and so damn clueless!") like a welter of ice cubes from a bucket and Aloe leaning forward for the chorus, putting a little sing-song into his voice to keep everything from tangling up ("All we got to do/is getaway"). People kept slinking away –"Every hip-hop show, they leave after four songs!" griped one fan—but OhNo and Co. didn't seem to notice or care, deploying a sorta-encore—"We aren't gonna leave you like that!" he said—apparently (and commendably) just for the sake of artistic fulfillment, since there were only about 12 people left and the girls were dancing with one another.