MICHAL MENERT at FILLMORE AUDITORIUM | 11/16/13 Taking the stage waving a Colorado state flag bearing his own name, Michal Menert humbly thanked the crowd for coming out and supporting him and then opened up the throttle of samples. With a new custom light stage, AC Lao on the drums, and various artists joining him on stage for specific tracks, Menert's final show on his Space Jazz tour pulled out all the stops for the hometown throw down. Despite the electricity of excitement in the air, the show remained relatively tame until the end when some other Colorado music personalities joined him on stage to close out the night.
If you follow Menert on any of his social media outlets, you'll already know that his lighting guy, Herm, has been crushing production for the current tour. At the Fillmore, Herm designed a pyramid of moving cans that created fantastic geometric lighting patterns throughout the venue in real-time with the music. The chemistry Menert has been able to develop with everyone involved in the show is obvious from the seamlessness of the production.
There were many surprise guests for the night, as promised, as well as a few minor peaks that really separated the show. Later in the set, Menert grabbed the microphone and rapped a track -- a nice change from the status quo -- shedding light on his roots as a musician and lyricist. Though stylistically different, if you closed your eyes, you could almost picture Slug from Atmosphere during the Menert's delivery; it has this dirty crispness to it that sat on the beat perfectly, and changed the pace up a bit.
For the encore, Menert brought out Dominic Lalli of Big Gigantic for a new track titled "When ou Lose Your Money, Please Don't Lose Your Mind," and his saxophone danced playfully on the beat, providing a great compliment and ender for the night. Along with Lalli's presence, Mux Mool and SuperVision also joined Menert on stage for a few selections, the only constant being AC Lao's steady drumming.
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Run the Jewels, the recent spawn of El-P and Killer Mike, played before Menert, but the crowd didn't seem to really vibe with it too well. On past stops, Run The Jewels featured a live band, but that wasn't the case for this show, and the two emcees brought a commanding presence that certainly warranted the full setup.
A few songs in, El-P tossed a thick fools gold rope out into the crowd before dropping straight into "36" Chain," and Killer Mike reflected the fervor when he took over on his verse, but the Fillmore was really sweating for the heavy beats and funk. Too bad, as Run The Jewels is easily one of the most slept on albums, and it wouldn't surprise me if Menert had once culled some inspiration in the early 2000s from past El-P albums.
This direct connection to hip-hop is becoming more and more noticeable with cross-genre billings. Here are some top-tier producers who all were raised on the Golden Era of hip-hop. It's just strange that there is a generational gap in the audience that may have missed this (or maybe they just don't like it) and get confused when something like Run The Jewels is sandwiched between Supervision and Menert -- two beat and sample driven acts that create a dance party.
Whether or not you were feeling the rap, the entire show flowed nicely. Mikey Thunder opened up the night followed by Supervision, another of Menert's label mates on Pretty Lights Music. Between the two them, we heard everything from Pharaoh Monch to Rage Against the Machine, all delicately distorted in each of their own styles.
Mikey Thunder seems to always feel the crowd, and this show was no different. Given his background, he seems to know exactly what to play in order to prime the crowd just right without blasting bass anthems or merely fading in and out. Thunder's beats always have this boom-scat feel to them, like they fit perfectly warming things up, but could just as easily be enjoyed with a tall glass of whiskey in a smokey room and the occasional drag of a record needle.
Personal Bias: Run The Jewels was dope. There were a lot of people uninterested in the set, but that shit was hot-fire. By The Way: Herm, the man behind the lighting, was working just as hard during Menert's set as Menert was. Those two have a created quite the spectacle. Random Detail: Menert's rapping was on point.