"How do you like this weird-ass show?" P.O.S. laughed from the First Avenue stage Saturday night.Coming back into town for his first show since March, the man also known as Stefon Alexander explained that he chose the local bands that he was excited about, so the bill swung from the boom-bap of Prof and St. Paul Slim to the evangelical prog rock of Moonstone and the dancing glitches of Slapping Purses. It proved a stong lineup of local talent, although whether or not he had chosen the lineup, it was P.O.S.'s show and we were all just along for the ride.
New band Moonstone, who just placed third in City Pages' annual Picked to Click music poll, opened the night with their Yes mixed with Anthrax sound, a roar powered by a guitar-driven five piece. But Moonstone is no ordinary outlandish-looking band- they are a Lunerian parish who "serve the moon", and so once the band got into its groove, the real show kicked in with the Reverend Micah Mackert shaking and exhorting the audience. He prophesied about the ending of "First Earth" and made beat poetic pronouncements on topics fecund and astrological coming across like a Charlie Chaplin character. It was great live theatre, totally absurdist, and felt a little inappropriate for the all ages audience, which made it even more fun.
After Moonstone's positive reception, the crowd ate up St. Paul Slim and Prof. Acclaimed for their Recession Music joint release that came out in April (on which P.O.S. cameod), the duo from the Stophouse crew worked the crowd into a frenzy with tunes like "Is This Mic On?" and "Everybody Down". Whereas P.O.S. pushes hip-hop through the punk hybridization, Slim and Prof traffic in the high powered boom-bap and braggadocio that established rap as a dominant force in the 90s, and seems to be alive and well still. Slim takes cues from Jay-Z, and not the multi-millionaire mogul we all sat through on The Blueprint 3, but the one for whom "it's about being hungry, live and never faking'" as he rapped in a fiery a capella rant in the middle of the set that was shining piece of MC technique. After that, Slim ostensibly left the stage and Prof took over the show with his goofy grin and fight 'em or fuck 'em attitude. He was joined by Rahzwell who provided hype support for an extended version of the relationship drama "A Month from Now" that had everyone swaying and after spraying the audience with a couple more bottles of water, left the stage to roars.
Slapping Purses got the short end of the stick with a set shoehorned in after the ravenous crowd had already had their hip-hop appetites whetted. The ADD glitchy disco sequencing would have worked exceptionally well at a late-night afterparty and the big bass samples definitely had some heads bobbing, but the overall reception was lukewarm and the set ended to chants of "P.O.S.! P.O.S.!" P.O.S. came to the rescue later in his own set, noting Slapping Purses' rhinestone studded microphone modified distorting buttons and filters, and fixed the audience with the question, "Can you make a microphone? If you can't make a microphone, you gotta give it up for Slapping Purses."
P.O.S. took the stage along with DJ Plain Ol' Bill backed by a video projection Technicolor ghosts, skulls and the word "rap" flashing, a simple extension of his innovative mix-and-match packaging for Never Better. But P.O.S. wasn't nominated for an mtvU Woodie Award for some elaborate stage show, but because he throws himself whole-heartedly into his delivery, and he wasn't about to let down the hometown crowd. P.O.S.'s delivery had modified a bit since his last First Ave show, probably in response to his grueling tour schedule (Europe twice, Coachella, all across the country for the better part of the year). Several songs, including "Goodbye", were at a noticeably slower paced, but the space allowed P.O.S. to relax his voice and maintain a deep, punctuating cadence, and "Never Better" developed a subtle melodic walkdown through the verse, showing off P.O.S.'s adaptability and growth on the road.
Doomtree's Dessa and Sims made a guest appearance for their verses on "Low Light Low Life" and P.O.S. brought Paper Tiger, who produced the beat, out on stage so that he could see the crowd enjoying the song. Also in attendence was P.O.S.'s mother Grace, who he had the audience turn to and say "hi" and to whom he dedicated "Duct Tape", a song he had not performed in two years. Throughout the night, fans threw hats up on to stage, and P.O.S. good naturedly would try them on, from a lumberjack cap to a zebra print baseball cap and when he left the stage, he managed to stack about six on his head as he left. For the dedication he showed to bringing his fierce best to the stage, it was the least we could do to get him something to keep him warm on the road.
Let It Rattle
Graves (We Wrote The Book)
Drumroll (We're All Thirsty)
De La Souls
Paul Kersey To Jack Kimball
Music For Shoplifting
Low Light Low Life
Yeah Right (Science Science)
Optimist (We Are Not For Them)
Out Of Category
Stand Up (Let's Get Murdered)