See Also: - SP Double has come a long way, and it shows - Mr. Midas on Son of the Crack Era, hip-hop unity and the downfall of King Midas - Morning Star is striving to make his rise in the Denver rap game - "Welcome to the CO"
The doors opened at 8 p.m., but the first act didn't go on until 9:30. All the downtime gave the crowd plenty of time to thicken up and work on getting drunk. DJ MFTwo kept the tables turning, even if it was merely background music for socializing. The crowd was a nicely diverse mix of hardened heads, drunk twenty-somethings and scantily clad younger ladies. The vibe was positive, and you could tell everyone was there to see a show.
The first act of the night was Signature Music Group. Although the two MCs, CR. and Joe Stacc$, rapped over pre-recorded tracks with vocals, their timing and mike control made it hard to tell. Their performance was engaging and interactive without being over the top. Their style was refreshingly old school with classic lyricism. The group's short set was just long enough for the duo to pique interest.
After MFTwo filled the fifteen minute break, Mr. Midas hit the stage with not one, but two hype men. The crowd thickened on the floor as he engaged them with some audience participation exercises. The highlight of his set was when he broke out a track utilizing fun.'s "We Are Young" as a hook. This energized the crowd and allowed him to break into an equally dramatic a cappella.
Next up was obvious crowd favorite, Morning Star. He was also accompanied by two hype men, only his guys were more vocal and overpowering than Midas's and ended up overshadowing his performance more than complimenting. Some sound issues with the mike made the MC hard to hear, and also made the fact that he was rapping over his album a little more conspicuous. The oddest part about this was that he sounded distinctively different live than his recorded vocals.
Morning Star has obvious charisma, which explains the crowd's devotion, but his overuse of N bombs was a little obnoxious and didn't speak highly of his lyrical ability. Near the end of his set, Morning Star broke out a personal track about abuse he endured as a child, giving the first completely honest glimpse into the rapper.
SP Double started his tight set with a hip-hop quiz, paying tribute to the fallen MCs that have shaped the genre. SP is clearly quite comfortable on stage, a testament to his years of experience. The night seemed to be a battle of the hypemen, and SP's was, by far, the hypest. SP kept his set compact and straight to the point while showcasing other MCs that he collaborated with on his album, Loyalty Honor Respect.
Near the end of his set, in a show of solidarity, the MC brought up all of the other acts on the bill and they performed the Mile High anthem, "Welcome to the CO". This awesome display of unity was a pleasant surprise, and, ironically, it came just before a brief, impromptu set by extremely talented Washington-based Boostwell crew member C.Ray.
With a thinning crowd, Dope City took the stage following a theatrical video introduction, and the four MCs, sans DJ, weaved through a set of bass heavy tracks about getting money. The video interludes and digital banners added a pro look, but their set could have used a bit more rehearsing to support that image. There were a few times during the set that the members seemed bored (one dude even seemed to check his phone a few times). A gimmicky champagne toast at the end of the set was a little much.
All and all, though, it was a great night at the Gothic. The unity and respect that was shown by all the artists throughout the night was mirrored by the crowd. It was nice to have such a positive vibe and see such a solid turn out for an all local show. Let's hope we see more shows like these in the future.
Personal Bias: A hype man can be a blessing or a curse. More often than not, though, it's the latter.
Random Detail: Everyone was wearing cargo shorts.
By The Way: It's been said over and over again: Don't rap over your pre-recorded vocals. Just fucking don't!