Transit, Busdriver and Doomtree
My faith in rap shows recently has not been too strong. I just have been to one too many rap shows that just didn’t impress me either due to the poor sound quality, lack of energy from the performers or a bit of both. I saw Aesop Rock in January and he restored a little of my faith in live rap shows and after seeing this tour, my love of live rap has almost been fully restored. The opening rapper was a guy named Transit from Canada and he instantly got me excited for the rest of the show. He was a good guy, clearly charismatic and I was for once able to hear the things he was rapping about. He talked about everyday stuff and actually focused on his divorce he just had making him seem very down to earth. His beats were good and his attitude about the crowd was great and I found myself enjoying everything he was doing a lot more than I usually do for an opener at a rap show. Normally I find it hard to get into rap I am unfamiliar with at live shows due to the poor sound quality I usually deal with meaning not only can I not understand what they are saying, I usually can’t even hear the beat that well. Transit did not have any of these problems so I knew from the beginning that this was going to be a good show.
Busdriver was the next rapper on the bill, and the main reason that I had decided to go to the show. I had known from my previous listening he was a wacky guy, but observing him while performing truly solidified this idea in my mind. He came out on stage with just a mixing board and dressed in a trench coat and proceeded to memorize the crowd with hits amazing lyrical speed and ability and the way he mixed each and every one of the songs he played instead of relying on a DJ behind him. I only knew his latest project, Perfect Hair, so I didn’t understand how fast he could rap, but after the fist couple of songs it became obvious he could give Twista a run for his money for speed. He was insane; he seemed to have a double-jointed tongue with the way he would mix his syllables and words. The whole time he was wowing us with hits vocal ability, he also was making his fingers move in any each way with his hands and seemed to be moving a finger join for each syllable he used. It became a strange, flowing dance that mixed well with his incredible rapping speed and together, with his constant adjusting and mixing of the beats and music he was rapping over, he was a one man performing genius.
During Busdriver’s entire set I could not stop from just staring, mouth agape with how simply fast he could rap. It blew me away and when he would get going, the rest of the crowd and myself included seemed to be awoken from being hypnotized and we all began to cheer ourselves hoarse. The best part of his set though was when he played his cover of “Never Catch Me” by Flying Lotus. Me and Ruben went absolutely nuts when the beat started and it was hard to contain myself and not accidently bump into the people next to me as I went ballistic hearing one of my favorite songs from last year with Busdriver going over it. After that, I knew this was going down in my mind as one of my favorite rap shows of all time. Between his mixing and rapping and his overall demeanor, he worked himself into a performing trance and actually went about 20 or 30 minutes over, because when I looked down at my phone when he finished, he had been on stage for almost an hour, much longer than most openers. I went and talked to him after the show, and trying to be cool, I asked him about To Pimp A Butterfly and what he thought of it. He said he liked it and I replied that it was probably my album of the year already. Busdriver looked at me and then hit me with some of the best wisdom I have ever heard. He said, “Who cares, rap is too gossipy, just listen to it for the music, it doesn’t matter what other people think.” I was initially embarrassed to be called out but as I thought about it, I realized he was 100% right. People care way to much what others think before they can even think what is good music.
So going into Doomtree, I was not all that hopeful that they would be able to beat what Busdriver had just done. They came on stage with great energy and all six of the members took turns rapping and showcasing their skills. I was frankly exhausted from my dancing for Busdriver but I jumped along with the rest of the crowd as they all sang along to the songs. I honestly only knew P.O.S. from his solo stuff and figured seeing him in general would be worthwhile. He was easily the best of the group and every time it was his turn to rap I made sure to pay extra attention. As the show went on, they revealed this was the last stop of the tour before they went to SXSW, so they wanted to make their last three songs the best of the tour. I was un-amused with their obviously rehearsed stage banter, but the last three songs they did, the energy level was turned up a few notches and the crowd responded. To make it even better, I even recognized a couple of the songs and I was able to get myself hyped enough to jump around with the best of them. I was impressed that the group was able to raise the bar for those last three songs instead of just talking the talk and as I walked out of the Launchpad that night, I was impressed with everything from every performer I had seen for the first time in a long time.