Kool Keith, ManeLine and the Americans Saturday, May 3 2008 The Oriental Theater Better than: Trying to get a cab home from the Oriental Theater.
How often do you imagine meeting someone famous? Do you wonder if they’ll be nice, or a complete jackass? Likewise what about a band or musician that you think is great? Will they be awesome or will they completely blow it? Sitting at the Oriental, I imagined Kool Keith decked out in some sort of space suit or some sort of crazy spectacle, given his propensity for show. What we got, however, was something much different.
Before we get to that, there was more to this show than Kool Keith. Locals, the Americans, came out swinging with a set that fused live instrumentation with canny beats and rapid-fire rhymes. Frontman Nate Crary came at the audience with like a boxer as the rest of the band kept the grooves tight and forceful. The band, whose energy never stopped over the course of its set, set the bar for the rest of the night's acts.
ManeLine followed and took a different path to get to where they were going. With dark beats and none too subtle rhymes, ManeLine was pretty awesome. The aptly named Dee Jay Tense supplied a perfect backdrop for Inkline and Mane Rok, who for his part, did a pretty stunning freestyle regarding the recent Sean Bell tragedy, evidence that the group actually had something important to say. ManeLine is one of the better hip-hop groups I’ve seen in a long time.
When ManeLine left the stage, the anticipation grew. Anticipation began to turn to exasperation as the crowd sat and waited... and waited... and waited. After a while, I began to wonder if Kool Keith would even take the stage. Finally, after about an hour, he emerged, without a space suit or dressed as Black Elvis. With little fanfare, he whizzed through a set that contained mostly moments from his Dr. Octagon record. Looking pained to be there, Kool Keith kept it short, completely tramping out the energy created by the Americans and ManeLine, letting down those of us who hoped for something exciting.
-- Jeremy Brashaw
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Personal Bias: I think more hip-hop groups need to incorporate live instruments like the Americans did perfectly.
Random Detail: For those who have not listened to Kool Keith, a great place to start is Dr. Octagonecologyst.
By the Way: Check out Maneline at Westword’s Music Showcase, Saturday, June 14.