Mic Check: Eyedea & Abilities, Dosh @ Bottom of the Hill, 2/10/10

You know you’re a live music junkie when a large factor that played into choosing your apartment was it’s proximity to the venues you often frequent. Bottom of the Hill is the second closest to me, and while I love it, I’ve been finding shows to go to there less and less frequently.

I got in easily despite my residual post-list issue anxiety from Monday. I was surprised to find the first opener still on stage when I arrived an hour late. Then there was a lengthy break before the next act hit the stage….so I started out the show kind of agitated.

Luckily dosh, from Minneapolis, has music that just completely spaced me out. It was not what I expected from an opener for E&A- an electronica, hip hop, rock hybrid of one guy and a drum set, sequencer, and keys. I’m always torn at sets like this- I like the music, but watching it be played in front of me is not the most dynamic experience. But this will be added to my work tunes rotation.

I first saw Eyedea & Abilities way back in 2004, at a Rhymesayers Showcase opening for Atmosphere. In fact, I think it was the first on many shows I dragged the guy I used to date to, and it ended up being his crash course in learning how to deal with me at shows. Him: Pushes guy that bumped into me away and tells him to beat it. Me: We are at a concert, people are going to bump into me, I can take care of myself! Anyway, I remember being impressed by Eyedea’s speed and flow, so when I was asked to check them out, I was curious to see them again.

The twosome quickly came on after the last set, drinks in hand, stoned eyes. I have always been attracted to hip hop with simpler beats that you can immediately groove onto, and biting lyrics that make you think. E&A fall into that. They’ve got a rock n roll edge to them as well- Eyedea, or Michael, even does a fair amount of screaming.

However, I could barely hear him. Most of the set was plagued with mic problems, and this was unfortunately not fixed until close to the end. But he rolled with it. Agitated by the mic problems, he also admitted to be running a fever, and there was a dude that kept yelling at him from the crowd that was really getting on his nerves. “Is this a Bay Area thing- every time there’s a pause you have to fill it with something?”. At one point, the mic completely went out, and while it was being fixed, upon the crowd’s urgings, he went a capella without the mic, freestyling an SF rhyme that involved San Francisco-disco-butter-and Crisco, and then went into another track stripped down like this. It was actually my favorite part of the set- he commanded the crowd to be so quiet that we could hear him, and the rawness of it all really affected me.

It remained really light in there throughout the whole show, which caused me to think about the uniqueness of BOTH as a venue. The artist not only has the crowd in front of them, but one side of the stage is open to the crowd as well, and then there are occasionally people peeping in the window at the back of the stage that looks onto the smoking patio (which DEP broke in ’07).

The show continued with much improved sound. It ended with an improvised encore involving the opener, dosh, on drums, and 2 other guests, one on the mic and another over with Abilities on beats. I’m not sure what their names were, but it was a 10 minute hip hop jam session up there.

Though ‘my’ scene is usually the rock and metal shows, I love having these hip hop sets from time to time. The vibe, the crowd, the energy is so different; it gives me great perspective on the diversity of music, how artists pull other genres into their own, and reminds me that I am one of the first generations to grow up with both hip hop and rock as part of my musical DNA.

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