Yelawolf with Prof and Muja Messiah at First Avenue, 3/30/11

Yelawolf with Prof and Muja Messiah
March 30, 2011
First Avenue

Seeing Yelawolf at Soundset last year solidified his talent for me, and I was excited to see him headline in a proper sweaty and loud club.  

The show sold out 20 minutes after doors, causing a good chunk of the line to disappear in a huff.  Those of us with forethought made our way inside to the sounds of the house DJ, who spun mostly old standards like Biggie and Cube, but added some local flare with Maria Isa's "Lowrider Mamis (Caddy Lincoln Chevys)," a remix of Lloyd Banks and Juelz Santana's "Beamer Benz Or Bentley." The song transitioned the dance floor from solely male head nodding to female dancing as well, and made for an excellent introduction to Isa herself, who joined DJ Turtleneck on stage to hype for Muja Messiah's arrival.  

After having a pre-show dinner at the Depot next door, Muja blasted through a tight set and a range of material, from his Minnesota tribute "Leech Lake" to classics like "Tha Madness," and new stuff with the Green Party Allstars (Real Spit Rick, Dodi Phi, and Shiones) and with Maria Isa. I have a feeling staff must've listened when Muja told security to "go easy on us tonight; we smokin' in this bitch," as the trees were lit almost on cue when the projector screen raised to start the show. I'd always wondered why someone would pay extra for a spot at the VIP tables, but, judging from the incredible dank coming from that section of the club, perhaps it's for the ease in bending certain rules.  

​The second big-deal local opener, Prof of Stophouse Records, seemed to also show out for the drinkers in the crowd, not solely for his ode to whiskey but mostly for his rowdy energy when rapping. After his all-out, show-stopping performance of "Terminator," I don't know if I saw the crowd's hands come back down while Prof was on stage. His set was well-crafted and displayed the rapper's innate sense of crowd control, bringing people to heights through deft stage presence and infectious vocal stylings. DJ Fundo, behind Prof on the decks, was one of the more animated DJs I've seen, which also helped.  

Everyone in the crowd seemed good and ready for Yelawolf to come and destroy, several people to the point of being physically dragged off the premises. The place was totally packed, and people were literally fighting for spots (my girlfriend and I got intentionally shoved from our wall seats by the wheelchair ramp, which were apparently reserved for someone else).  

Yelawolf came on promptly at 11:15 as projected, and Metro Transit riders sighed in relief as the DJ spun new material from Shady Records featuring Yela and other recent signees Slaughterhouse as an introduction.  The place exploded when Catfish Billy himself burst out, jumping straight into "Trunk Muzik" while rocking a grungy bluish-grey sweatshirt.  The song's slow tempo and booming 808 was a nice way to ease into the rapper's tongue-twisting and twangy style, but after "Billy Crystal" dropped second, everyone in the joint was screaming the chorus and losing their shit.  

The set was mostly made up recognizable material from Yeller's official album Trunk Muzik 0-60, which allowed for lots of audience participation and enthusiasm, but there was plenty of moments where the rapper switched things up to keep us on our toes.  A quick verse over a classic drum break, occasional acapellas (Oh, that's what he's saying during that super fast part...), and the left-field Eazy-E remix "Boyz In The Woodz" made the set tighter and showed off the rapper's incredible range.  One of my favorites, "Mixin' Up The Medicine," seemed to be the test to see if people were familiar with his older stuff, and it sounded amazing in the live setting.  

​You really could not have asked for a better place than First Ave for this show to go down: The sound was as booming as a high-end car stereo and the vocals were clean enough that you could hear everything, not to mention the craziness of the atmosphere and the overall large-yet-intimate feel.  The lost-love anthem "Love Is Not Enough" brought with it a sea of lighters ablaze from the crowd (further proof of the overwhelming amount of pot users), and ended with Yela saying "But fuck that shit, I just wanna party!" to introduce "I Just Wanna Party."

I was most impressed with how Yela handles the stage on his own, hitting every word with perfect precision while still managing to be a sight to behold.  Slowly throughout the show, Yelawolf stripped to just his boxers and sagging pants, revealing his heavily-inked scrawny skater frame just in time for "Pop The Trunk," whose menacing shout-along chorus had most of the place chanting along.  After a brief pause offstage, the rapper ran back to close with the encore "In This Club," during which he leapt into the crowd and surfed for the hook.  He said earlier in the set that this was the biggest crowd he'd had yet.  

The crowd began to dissipate after the final song, save for a few stragglers who appreciated the now-empty dancefloor.  Had staff wanted to effectively sweep up the mass of broken glass and empty Ziploc bags, they might've had the DJ play something other than hits like "All I Do Is Win" and "Hard In Da Paint" (which Muja Messiah did a Barry White-style tuned-down version of earlier, saying "Do ya'll know the words to this?  I hope not.").  All in all, the show was powerful and insane, and pushed Yelawolf even further up on the list of personal favorites.

Personal Bias:  If that last sentence didn't clue you in, I like dude's music.
The Crowd:  Exactly as buck wild as they should have been.
Overheard In The Crowd:  Yelawolf called somebody out in the crowd for calling him a "bitch" and told him to come up on stage and say that to his face.  When he eventually did, it turned out he was calling him a "beast."  "Oh, that's cool," Yela replied, and apologized.
Random Notebook Dump:  I want a pair of glowing sunglasses like Yelawolf had.

Set List:

Intro - DJ spin: 2.0 Boys (Game Over)
Trunk Muzik
Billy Crystal
Good To Go
Box Chevy Part 3
Daddy's Lambo
Mixin' Up The Medicine
You Ain't No DJ
Interlude - Verse Over Melvin Bliss' "Synthetic Substitution" break 
I Wish
That's What We On Now
Boyz In The Woodz
Love Is Not Enough
I Just Wanna Party
Pop The Trunk

Encore:  In This Club