GRRRL PRTY Residency Finale at Icehouse, 1/10/14

GRRRL PRTY Residency Finale at Icehouse, 1/10/14
Photo by Nick Kozel

GRRRL PRTY with special guests
Hosted by Dessa
Icehouse, Minneapolis
Friday, January 10, 2014

A year ago, GRRRL PRTY was a complete unknown for most fans -- they played their first show together back in July. Since then, they've become fixtures of Twin Cities hip-hop scene without even releasing an album, in part through their residency at Icehouse, during which they've showcased other talented acts like BdotCroc and Psalm One.

After GRRRL PRTY ran through "Top Floor," a celebration of unapologetic ambition with the hook "99 problems but a dick ain't one," Manchita moved to the front of the stage for one of the few somber moment of a raucous night. The spitfire MC told us how one year ago she lost everything in a house fire, including her cat.

See also: Slideshow: GRRRL PRTY at Icehouse, 1/10/14

"GRRRL PRTY changed my life," she said, wiping away tears. After hugs from her bandmates, she introduced "Ashes," a song inspired by the experience, and unleashed an absolute banger about power and rebirth over the destructive trap of TNGHT's "Goooo." One verse closed with "You can keep me out your boy's club, in it's final hour / But name one empire that ever kept their power."

GRRRL PRTY Residency Finale at Icehouse, 1/10/14
GRRRL PRTY Residency Finale at Icehouse, 1/10/14
Photos by Nick Kozel

What is GRRRL PRTY? According to Lizzo in a recent interview, "GRRRL PRTY is so fun, and so hip-hop, and fulfills so much of my N.W.A. tendencies." And according the sold-out crowd on Friday, they brought it. The group consists of Lizzo and Sophia Eris of the Chalice, along with Manchita, and they were backed up by DJ Shannon Blowtorch.

Previous residencies had split the bill between a few acts, but this finale was supported entirely by GRRRL PRTY themselves. It was also the first to entirely sell-out in pre-sale, and the venue was packed, making it all the more obvious that the Icehouse isn't so much a venue as it is a restaurant with a stage -- with good acoustics. Host Dessa introduced, charming as always, promising "more vowels, fewer consonants and broader gestures as the evening goes on."

After a short Shannon Blowtorch DJ set featuring local dancers Natty and Mona L

GRRRL PRTY Residency Finale at Icehouse, 1/10/14
GRRRL PRTY Residency Finale at Icehouse, 1/10/14
Photos by Nick Kozel

After a few more similarly high-powered tracks, Lizzo brought out a keyboard and her birthday twin, friend, and collaborator Caroline Smith. Given the set-up, most of the crowd expected something a little more reserved than what they got, which was a cover of Drake's bravado-soaked "All Me." Caroline Smith took the 2 Chainz verse, obviously. It was definitely a break in the polish of the rest of the show, and musically it was more than a few steps below the rest of the night, but all the same it was one of the more memorable parts of the night.

"Welcome to our fucked up little practice space," Lizzo said after, acknowledging the tongue-in-cheek nature of the performance. The next song also featured Smith, and she and the crew slowed down for a jazzy ode to the jerks in all of our lives, with the wonderfully unsubtle chorus of "You a fuckin' asshole."

The best moments of the best concerts are those that feel like they spring out of nowhere, that are a little unhinged, and that just don't (or coudn't) exist on a recording. GRRRL PRTY ended on such a note when they closed with the "Wegula Wemix." The first feature, Dessa, set the tone with a tight verse dripping with venomous swagger, and I'm sure the crowd would have left happy if that was the extent of things. But then another MC joined the stage, then another, until finally it looked like some sort of regional posse track. Forgotten verses were replaced with on-point freestyle, P.O.S showed up and somehow managed to get even more of a bounce going in the audience, and Sean Anonymous absolutely snapped, to the point where I thought he might literally be losing his mind on stage.

GRRRL PRTY could have probably kept going with that group on stage until bar close, but at 1:25 a.m. the set ended as it began: with Beyoncé, this time "Drunk in Love." They made one change to the Jay-Z verse, adding a well deserved "Fuck Ike, only Tina Turner. No Ikes, only Tinas."

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias: This was my first time at a GRRRL PRTY show, but I've seen the Chalice three times and I'm a huge fan.

Overheard in the crowd: "Ten dollars for THIS? I've been to $90 shows that suck ass."

The crowd: Predominantly young, apparently "with it," and better dressed than your average concert-goers.

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