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Grateful P.O.S took 'Chill, Dummy' on an exhilarating test run at 7th St. Entry

P.O.S performing in 2013, not at 7th St. Entry on Friday.

P.O.S performing in 2013, not at 7th St. Entry on Friday. Star Tribune

On Friday night at 7th St. Entry, P.O.S celebrated the release of an album he'd been agonizing over. Chill, Dummy is his first solo LP on Doomtree Records after moving on from Rhymesayers, and his first since recovering from a kidney transplant that put major limits on his ability to perform live.

After the show sold out in under two minutes, the Minneapolis rap vet said he felt a bit better about releasing the album. During the actual live debut of his long-awaited new material, he was practically beaming with excitement and a tinge of nervousness.

"We leave for tour tomorrow," P.O.S said after performing the abrasive opener, "Born A Snake." "We don't know any of these songs ... I didn't tell you to buy a ticket!"

Chill, Dummy is a highly collaborative, understatedly innovative work that's as massive, personal, and powerful as anything he's released, but with a free-thinking looseness that dissolves overt punk sounds into a sort of ragged club vibe. It experiments with structures, competing levels of intensity, and juggles a number of disparate voices.

Friday's performance at the intimate Entry perfectly recreated that vibe, with a rotating cast of onstage guests and a unique sense of engagement with the crowd. P.O.S maintained a jokey, personable attitude as he worked his way through a long set of new and old songs. Banter highlights included being excited that RP Hooks was in a rap crew with his son, and saying real political change could come about by punching Richard Spencer in the face every single day. P.O.S tempered his energy only slightly, noting that his tour began at 9 a.m. Saturday and that rapping at 35 is considerably harder than at 19. He reiterated his gratefulness a few times for the friends, family, and fans he says helped save his life and allowed him to live his dream.

Throughout the night P.O.S talked up his openers -- Dwynell Roland, J. Plaza, and Lady Midnight. Roland and Midnight returned to the stage for vibrant versions of their Chill, Dummy contributions: "Thieves/Knives," "Faded" (a remake of a Gayngs song), and "Pieces/Ruins." P.O.S' enthusiasm for outside artists brought life into his own work, and the record's scatter-shot vocalists give it a chaotic, vibrant feel that muddies the idea of verse-chorus-verse constructions. Sims' surprise appearance for "Spill Me Up" was especially huge, pushing the crowd into a frenzy that barely relented. 

The interplay between P.O.S and DJ Fundo was worth the price of admission; they were very evidently having fun, drinking too much and making lewd jokes while continuing to do the songs justice. P.O.S has always combined unflinching realities and harsh sonics with pop leanings and a sense of humor. In a live setting, that duality comes off as natural as breathing. His demeanor is tough-as-nails and silly-as-hell all at once; it bleeds beautifully into the music, and the performance was bolstered by how effortless it all seems.

P.O.S described Friday's show as a trial run of sorts. None of the new songs have been road-tested, and he reminded everyone that he'd be playing First Avenue's Mainroom on March 17, where they'd all be more "hydrated and super-attractive." But it's clear he gives his all whenever he touches the stage, which especially came forward on the epic, skeletal tracks like "Lock-picks, Knives, Bricks and Bats" and the mind-blowing closer "Sleepdrone/Superposition."

Shouting out his kidney donor both in song -- he broke down the lyric in "Wearing A Bear" that references the donor directly -- and in person, P.O.S continually framed the night's success with the dire situation that preceded it. He genuinely thanked the audience multiple times for showing up, turning up, and being there for him when he needed it most. He's clearly appreciating this moment and looking forward to the future.

Notes on the openers: Promising locals Dwynell Roland, J. Plaza, and Lady Midnight all brought gigantic energy to the room as a precursor his set, whether through gruff, rapid-fire turn-up raps or mellow futurist experimental pop with a flare for the dramatic.

Overheard in the crowd: One crowd member's response to J. Plaza saying he's been sick all week? "Chemtrails!"

Random notebook dump: J. Plaza can chop and screw his own voice while sick.

Setlist:

Born A Snake
Let It Rattle
Bumper
Drumroll (We're All Thirsty)
Get Ate - with Gerald
Bully - with Moncelas Boston and RP Hooks
Optimist (We Are Not For Them)
Pieces/Ruins - with Dwynell Roland
Faded - with Lady Midnight
Thieves/Kings - with Lady Midnight
P.O.S is Ruining My Life
Spill Me Up - with Sims
Wearing A Bear
Lock-picks, Knives, Bricks and Bats
Get Down
Fuck Your Stuff
Lanes
Sleepdrone/Superposition