Shabazz Palaces in the Twisted Pepper
Seattle based rappers, Palaceer Lazaro and Tendai ‘Baba’ Maraire, better known as Shabazz Palaces, are new to my radar - but what an impression they have made. Their constantly surprising, subtext filled lyrics are atypically eloquent, and coupled with song structures that constantly ebb and flow in opposing directions, they are not your average rap couple. Also, they have dance routines. Mind blown. They played the Twisted Pepper on Friday night - and it was nothing short of awesome.
Sidling onstage, cool as hell, bedecked in sunglasses and to a roaring crowds’ yelps of excitement - they began their set in earnest. Unfortunately, there were some sort of teething problems with their sound set up - to the point that the pair stand a few paces back from their african-print-sheeted drums and Ableton keypad as the tech team from the Twisted Pepper rush to fix the problematic lead that seems to be causing the trouble. Apologetic or bewildered - I can’t quite tell - the pair look at the crowd, who - in response - burst into applause and we-don’t-mind-waiting whoops. I think we have an understanding. The issue is sorted within minutes and the pair launch again into their set. One of the first songs is ‘Youology’ who’s’ snapping-noised start is mirrored by the thickest bass thud that you could imagine - and set-in syncopated rapping…
‘searching blind / run behind / out of time / into fire / caked up in fake love to get you high’
…it’s so good. Filling out their set with ‘Recollections of the Wrath’ - with its female soul singing samples - and ‘An Echo From The Hosts That Profess Infinnitum’ - both tracks off their album ‘Black Up’ (which is epic, go buy) there isn’t a moment of wasted time between each song. Free-styled, improvised Ableton processes and live drumming, are twinned with maracas, dual clapping, thumb harps - and of course, succinctly worded, rapped lyrics. Their music, though thematically intense, is also whirring and sensual, and their voices velveteen.
They both bounce and groove to their own constant beats, but when I realized that they have dance moves - routines even - sometimes even something akin to double dutch clapping, I could have quite literally jumped out of my skin. They are so fucking adorable, I could die.Their on stage symbiosis and relationship makes me jealous. ‘Free Press and Curl’ - a song with an undeniably catchy hook is next up, ‘I’m Free, I’m Free, You know I’m Free’, and that on the night finished with a bonged cacophony, was perfection, and performed to a crowd that seemed to know every lyric ver batim already. Always a good sign. The constant reverb and intensity isn’t something that I quite expected from this gig - the album (and performance) vacillates in tempo from song to song, but the pairs’ stage presence has the whole room moving is a sort of collective wave on the strength of the beats. ‘Are You…. Can You… Were You? (Felt)’ - was the closing tune, and utterly perfect as such….
(Time / I understand it / But I never choose it / I can’t explain it with words / I have to do it / The ship I came on here vanished /// It’s a feeling / It’s a feeling / It’s a feeling).
Not. Enough. Superlatives.
This weeks’ Folie à Deux is up !
Tunes featuring from some of the acts that are playing at this weekends’ Camden Crawl Dublin, including We Are Scientists, KWES, PolarBear and ASIWYFA… Tickets are only €40 for the weekend (Fri / Sat) or €25 per single night. All the details and booking information is here.
Have a listen !
Yeasayer - Ambling Alp
KWES - Little Boy and Fat Man
And So I Watched You From Afar - Don’t Waste Time Doing Things You Hate
Polarbear - RepeaT
We Are Scientists - Great Escape (The Silence Remix)
BadbadnotGod - Limit to Your Love (Feist Cover)
StayOkay! - Llittle Voice
We Arrive Alive - Save Me From the Morning
Friend? - Dan2 and the Black and Purple Dream Jeans
This Town Needs Guns - Adventure, Stamina & Anger
Silversun Pickups - Make Believe
These boys. They’re not just a band you’re gonna like. They’re a band you’re gonna wanna be. They are cool as fuck. And the best bit is, I don’t think they even know it. That’s fucking awesome.
Last nights show in The Academy 2 was Bretons’ first ever in Ireland, and as they said themselves, ‘chances are that probably everyone in Ireland that knows about us - is here’ - there was about 50 people. Maybe, 50 people. But the crowd that did turn up to the show seemed to be a bunch of entranced new converts to the band, and many of the skillfully eavesdropped conversations I heard out in the smoking zone (yes I am the Rainman) at the front of the Academy were regurgitations of any of the few bio’s of the band that could be found online. Not overly surprising, given that Breton have only been together for the guts of the year, though they have, to date, released three E.P.s and launched their album, ‘Others Peoples Problems’ earlier this week. When I say go out and buy it, I mean NOW - (here) - its fucking great..
A distillation of pretty much every conceivable musical genre there is, Bretons’ tunes are a constant surprise, mashing hip hop, electro, shoe gaze and full on math rock with lyrics - sung - and harmonized - in both english and french, thank you very much. Their show was one of ‘them’ - one you know you’ll be chatting about in a few years going ’ oh yeah, Breton, I fully caught them a few years ago, before they got really fucking huge’, with a smug sense of satisfaction. The set - which i reckon was almost an hour long - was a full on onslaught - rapping, singing, and some of the best employed Korgs and Ableton pads I’ve seen in a while (i love noises), combined with the unique, jaunty drumming stylings of Adam Angier. Amongst the opening tunes was a song called ‘Sharing Notes’, thats a cracker, featuring a violin sample betwixt with some hard core rapping - when i said these guys’ music was unpredictable, this is kinda what I meant. There’s constant surprises in the structure, in the tempo, in the point of reference the music brings to mind - I swear at one point during a tune called ‘Sandpaper’, my mind said, ‘that (Ableton) noise wouldn’t sound out of place on a Skillrex tune’ - though being honest, I don’t really know who Skillrex is - it was just super-dancey and thats who my mind landed on. See? Random. These guys must be Skillrexs’ musical antithesis. Their music is just so full. And they are so damn nonchalant onstage, passing over instruments and swapping roles without missing a beat. Check songs like ‘December’ or ‘Kensington System’ for examples of standouts on the night - or ‘15X’ for proof that the boys are indeed multilingual. The one thing i would say is though, it was at times clear the audience was not entirely sure when to burst into their pretty damn appreciative applause - some of the songs had a tendency to fade out with noisy ambience rather than snap to silence - no one too keen on being that person that accidentally starts clapping mid song - awkward. Finishing up on a called ‘Penultimate’, the lads went to walk off stage though when the crowd started begin for another’s rather humbly quipped ‘I dunno if we have another one - no one ever asks us’ (really??) - and so banged out a tune called ‘`The Well’ - that has a super high Korg line and a gritty and cacophonously noisy breakdown. It’s serious. You know you rate a band when you buy one of their limited run, self designed t-shirts, and are keeping the tag that denotes your number for posterity. (47 / 200 for the record). Keep your eyes on these boys.
Support on the night came in the form of Dublins’ own ‘Ghost Estates’ - who we are always big fans of. We’ve seen them on numerous occasions in the last few months - and they really are going from strength to strength. Their set was a quick fire rendition of their realesed-so-far material, including ‘Paris’, ‘Forever or Never’ and ‘October’ (who’s single launch we went along too, and you can read about here) as well as some less familiar tunes - one, in particular, who’s name i didn’t catch, but has a weirdly (awesome) electronic stutter and the beginning, snappy electronic drums laid over the actual drum line and a big, fat guitar line that hovers above the song. It sounds awesome and makes me excited for the imminent album launch. (By way of mentioning, the lads are doing a ‘Fund-it’ to gather a bitter cash for the vinyl pressing of their album - which you can donate to here.) A great accompaniment to a great band.