Low End Theory at the Airliner, Eagle Rock
Feb. 29, 2012
A roster such as this at Low End Theory is one not
unnoticed. Having the Bjork-Lee Perry hybrid of the western United
beat culture Gonjasufi perform with manufacturer of skull cracks and
necks the Gaslamp Killer is akin to a musical séance. Not just that, but
rounding out the bill were Brainfeeder's Jeremiah Jae, newcomer Dot,
and the usual suspects
of Low End stalwarts.
The OGs of the scene, visionaries Daddy Kev and D-Styles, began
the night's brain jostling festivities with short, perfectly fluid sets rooted
in hip-hop. The two craftsmen began the set by giving the
audience members a basic
representation of what constitutes a night out for Eagle Rock's Low End Theory. With the exception of D-Styles' inimitable scratching, there
was nothing over the top, overbearing, or flashy about their productions.
Instead, that flair and crowd-hyping was left to the battle-rhyme ready linguistic
barbs from the night's MC, Nocando.
When the clock and Nobody's moment aligned, the first rounds
of mass sweat evaporation and sardine-style packing began. Nobody can
always be counted on to take an approach rooted in the music street
singles (yes, there's some yelling obnoxious phrases over mixtapes in there). If you want to listen to that new SODMG acolyte Souljah Boy signed, or you
actually take stock in what Lil B blasts from his twitter, Nobody is it. It's astonishingly fun to watch
him perform. There's even a hint of emotion-bingeing crooner The Weeknd in the scroungy-haired auteur of
revel-in-ignorance rap's set.
To celebrate her EP release on beat scene
institution Alpha Pup Records, Dot hit the stage for her very first LET
appearance. Her mix of carnival crunk and nod-inducing beats ensured that
everyone's attention was focused directly on her. From the beginning, her
music (working with the visuals behind her) created an atmosphere of circus-like psychedelia. E-40 may have psychedelic jewelry, but Dot has psychedelic everything in her everything.
Jeremiah Jae and the start of Gaslamp Killer's brutal multi-duty
followed. Through his recorded work Jae has made quite the fan out of me, and
seeing him performing live forced me to make the mental note of adding him to
my unwritten list of genuinely underrated rappers. At various moments in his
set he acted almost as a spoken word poet, albeit a spoken word spazz. He wasn't there to rap, trap, or be “on one”; he was there to astrologically project
himself into Eagle Rock.
The night's true headliners (I say that because
technically Gaslamp Killer is a resident) turned it into an
event audiences should mentally laminate and ingrain into their stored memories. Gaslamp Killer's set
started off with an epic introduction suited for a creative crusade, and
once that subsided, the tears, cracks and rattles began. The GLK's
first outing of the night was so heavy and punishing with its lower frequencies
and throbbing, chainsaw-sharp blows one could have mistaken the setlist to be
nothing but unadulterated half-step. Yet, those who know Gaslamp's miasma know
it's just his style.
When Gonjasufi joined him onstage, the energy skyrocketed. I had always envisioned Gonjasufi as a Tom Waits figure rising from the siren-soundtracked streets, those types of places where crude
graffiti tags marking their confines declare the region's identity. As I
witnessed him onstage, my whole perception shattered. More punk rock than the
corporate-funded bands of today, more NWA than the sugary-sweet and soft rappers
we like on Facebook, Gonjasufi is beautifully terrifying and viscerally authentic.
Watching him throw
his head down to the ground and stare down the equipment is like watching Iggy Pop in the
'70s, a balls-to-the-wall catharsis. Screeching, frenzied vocals mixed
with rough, untamed dreadlocks and mansion-sized bathtubs full of sweat marked his set; it was definitely an “I was there!” moment. The Sufi is a treat to watch and a treasure to
have, and it is headlining acts like this that make Wednesday nights in Eagle
Rock so transcendent.
Critic's Bias: I grew up on punk rock and hardcore, and once
viewed Keith Morris' luxurious dreaded locks as downright heroic. After seeing
Sufi's, I now know better. Now those are some locks worthy of punk rock.
Overheard in the Crowd: “Special Guest!” “There's going to be a special guest?!” “There's going to be a huge surprise guest!” “Huge special guest?!” Alas, there was no surprise performer. Oh well, next time.
Random Notebook Dump: At the very, very end when there were only a few stragglers and bar hoppers left, beatmaker/rapper/lumberjack Jonwayne took the stage to rap for a couple minutes. The reactions from a couple of the older, bar-hopping types were hilarious. They probably thought the bearded guy in the large coat and beanie was just a lucky homeless guy who managed to sneak in. Who would of thought he was one of the dopest rappers on the West Coast?