I went to the Immortal Technique show at the Middle East in Cambridge two Sundays ago. I admit I was a little bummed to catch the poster hanging next to the doors on the way in --- it said that he wasn't coming on until 10 (or was it 10:30?!). This was at 7:30. I didn't know any of the other names and wondered about my ability to last for 2.5 hours.
It really was a marathon. It was all hip-hop except for the first band. Was it "Irrepressed"? Sorry guys, I didn't really catch your names. It wasn't my thing. A lot of dreamy spaciness followed by a minute or two of some hard rockin', then back to the dreamy spaciness. It could be cool under some circumstances, but I was there to hear spit and bass.
Between all the acts, there was some well-intentioned goofiness by the guys from Leedz Edutainment, the group sponsoring the show. They got better as the night went on, keeping the crowd moving. Probably because the crowd kept getting bigger as more people trickled in. The show was sold out, but the place took a while to reach capacity.
After Irrepressed left, the Marxist hip-hop acts hit the stage. First was MC Exposition, who was a) very young and b) pretty awesome. Lots of hair and lots of energy. After him was Elemental, who came out in the classic green-coat Mao look. His rhymes might be awesome, but I couldn't hear him at all. His voice was too high, his delivery too fast, and he didn't make enough effort to connect with the crowd. The only word I could hear was "socialist", and I heard that a lot. I take that back, I heard "Zazen" a lot too. I'm into zazen, but I'm not into calling everything zen or zazen. Especially not noisy things. Form is emptiness and emptiness is form.
Then we had The Foundation. The Foundation is composed of two MCs (Eroc and Optimus) and their "spiritual advisor" (a guy named Bamboo). There may be some Wu-Tang inspiring all that, but they don't sound like that. Bamboo spun around the stage like a... dude randomly spinning around. These guys were entertaining and sharp. I'd say other than Tech himself, The Foundation got the most energy out of people and came the closest to starting the revolution. I'd see a show with them as headliners for sure. In fact it looks like they are part of another show at the Middle East coming up in a few days.
After that there was agony. A lot of build-up. The compressed version. Several MCs who weren't on the bill came out. They were kind of part of Tech's group. Some of them are on his albums. So, we saw Poison Pen. Verdict is still out on his rhymes. I'm not sure he completed a song --- he kept stopping to mess with the crowd, since that was the whole point of stretching this in-between time out. We saw Diabolic (who is on both Revolutionary Volume 1 and Revolutionary Volume 2). I'll be watching for his albums. He's more violent and less informed than Technique, but sometimes his delivery is indistinguishable. And Akir, from One on Volume 2. Good, much smoother and upbeat than the others.
Then Immortal Technique. Awesome.
my words damage and slaughter
a raging alcoholic
like the president's daughters
like 3rd world country tap water..
He played all of the tracks I wanted to hear, except Crossing the Boundary and Caught in a Hustle. Ok, I really wanted to hear No Me Importa, but I didn't actually expect him to do that one. Opening with The Point of No Return was perfect --- I don't think I've seen a club show erupt like that. It's just like when you put the album in, you know? I kept getting distracted by the little kid next to me --- he had to have been 12, how the fuck did he get in? And the two thugs in front of me talking about beating up another kid who was unlucky enough to catch some merchandise that was being thrown out to the crowd. He also played Harlem Streets, Dance with the Devil, Peruvian Cocaine, Industrial Revolution (my favorite), a track from the Bin Laden Remixes, and One, in addition to doing some impromptu a cappella stuff. One was a funny experience. Ever been in a room packed with a kinda rough crowd sticking your index finger in the air and chanting "One Love One Music One People One Movement One Heart One Spark...!". Me neither. He played Obnoxious as an encore. Great song, but a damn funny way to follow up One and kind of a dangerous song to send people out into the streets with.
Let's face it, you're basic
you aren't half the man that I am
I'll throw your gang sign up
and then I'll spit on my hand
However, that is the track with "Burn it off the Internet and bump it outside!", a sentiment I fully endorse. Anyway, we all pumped our fists in the air and yelled "Viva la Revolucion!" and made up. Good times. Great music.