Photo courtesy of the artist
With Niles Miller, The Lioness, and GRRRL PRTY
Sunday, September 1, 2013
Eve has been off the music radar for a while now, but her latest album Lip Lock finally saw release a few months ago after years of delays and setbacks. She's mostly focused on acting since 2002's Eve-Olution, but last night's performance at Epic proved her to be just as hungry as when she was Ruff Ryder's first lady.
The concert was a Ladies Appreciation night, with free entry for women before 10:30 and reduced prices for VIP, which made for a large and appreciated female presence in the audience. beyond that, the lineup was almost exclusively female artists, which is fairly rare to see. A quick set from Niles Miller, performing cuts from his recent project Bright Future, preceded a performance by the Lioness. Her sets get better every time I see her, but I wish she would move away from rapping over backtracks, especially since she doesn't need them. She makes it clear that she's skilled enough to tackle songs without backing vocals, but their presence takes away from the set overall. It was nice to see BdotCroc join her in the middle. Their combined energy is tight and it highlights a growing female rap sound coming from the Northside scene.
The inimitable GRRRL PRTY took stage next, and after some minor technical difficulties, launched into some pretty incredible new material. Lizzo, Sophia Eris, and La Manchita are individually incredible MCs that gel together effortlessly for a pretty amazing set. More raw in certain ways than the Chalice, GRRRL PRTY are a hard-spitting, take-no-shit group that worked hard to win over a somewhat tough crowd. Most of the few shows the group has done have come with a base of support from critics and the local hip-hop audience, but this crowd was largely unaware of their reputation and it was hard to tell how into it they were at first. Lizzo especially took this cue to spit harder and force her way into the favor of the people, and it was next to impossible for anyone to deny their talent and vigor after the set concluded. All the openers were perfect additions to the set and prepared everyone well for Eve's arrival.
Entering to the familiar sitar plucks of "Ruff Ryders' Anthem," Eve blew forth onto the stage to huge applause. Saying she hadn't played the city since 2000, she said she'd make sure the night was worth the wait. Behind her were a DJ, drummer, and keyboardist, who rounded each beat out with some crispy live sounds that added quite a bit to the performance. Eve's rapping was tight and forceful, and there wasn't much wear in her stage performance despite the long hiatus. Her trademark short haircut was replaced with long blonde hair, but the attitude that made her such a strong figure in late '90s rap remained even through her newer, poppier material. Lip Lock was unfortunately ignored by many critics but has a number of infectious songs, many of which stood out against those more familiar. But the classics like "Love Is Blind" and "Let Me Blow Ya Mind" definitely got the biggest crowd reactions.
Eve maintained a great rapport with the crowd all night, enthusiastically chatting in between songs and sincerely thanking everyone for the support. The audience remained excited, dancing and cheering along for the duration of the show. Eve even invited dancers from the crowd onstage at various points ("I need 4 girls and 2 dudes... Dudes, don't be too cool to dance and shit," she instructed during her final song "Tambourine"). Her attitude was fun but kept up the rough edges that endeared her to rap fans, and she could keep up the East Coast straight-spit ethic better than most people I've seen outside of their prime era. There are far too many instances of older rappers (especially those who start to seek consistent work in other fields) who phone in their shows, but Eve was far from that, maintaining an energy she likely had last time she was here. It was a thoroughly impressive performance, and there's a decent chance for a full-scale Eve comeback if she can continue on that path.
Personal Bias: I didn't come in with a lot of knowledge about Eve post-Scorpion, and I often reserve some skepticism for rappers who maintain a known name but have been out of the picture for a while. Eve overcame this immediately.
The Crowd: Definitely lots of ladies, a few older fans, pretty diverse range of fans.
Overheard In The Crowd: Some dude yelled "Eve, I'll lick your bootyhole!" almost immediately as she walked on stage. Didn't strike me as a tactic that would work but what do I know.
Ruff Ryders' Anthem
Hot Boyz Remix
What Ya'll Niggaz Want
Love Is Blind
Make It Out This Town
Pour It Up Freestyle
My Chick Bad Remix
She Bad Bad
I'm Caught Up (Give It To You)
Let Me Blow Ya Mind
Who's That Girl?
Keep Me From You