Winter’s last hurrah. Diminishing returns on investments. Proxy wars in the Middle East. Viral video activist campaigns that just don’t seem to sit right. There’s a lot on our minds as usual. Good thing you can still dumb out at your local concert hall (in this case, Ann Arbor’s legendary Blind Pig; Nirvana played there, among others) to ease those burdens just a bit.
The Claps & Slaps tour features one of the better line-ups of the moment. While this jaded music journalist generally just shows up for the headliner, snaps a few jostled images and dips, for whatever reason, he showed up early and the evening’s opening acts turned out to be every bit as stellar as the top biller.
Having heard A.Dd+ on the Black Milk-produced track “Insomniac Dreaming,” there was a bit of curiosity to see what these Dallas dudes were bringing to the game. The duo (Slim Gravy & Paris Pershun), backed by their DJ/producer Picnictyme, ran through a pretty inspired set, revving up the packed house with a mix of southern backpack and Stanky Leg jigginess. They finished their set with the rousing “Genocide.” Quality.
Expectations for J. Pinder were admittedly low (despite some decent blog buzz) and that worked in his favor. The track “Upside Down” is a certified gem. The beat produced by Frank Dukes has that rare quality and the Seattle lyricist executed on the track like a pro. His other memorable piece is “Big Homie Style” off Jake One’s White Van Music, worth revisiting. Good stage presence and command of the crowd.
Like his mentor, Black Milk is a producer first, MC second. While he can rock a crowd with ease, he is not a lyricist of the caliber of say a Danny Brown, Royce Da 5’9″ or Elzhi. Perhaps he is aware of his limitations on the mic so being backed by a 3-piece band certainly helps his stage show come across more cohesively. Nat Turner may not be quite as polished as fellow Detroiters Will Sessions Band but keyboardist/vocalist Aaron “Ab” Abernathy just about stole the show with some soulful adlibs and choruses. The $1.75 PBrs had the crowd in full crunk mode as Milk ripped through cuts from Album Of The Year and Tronic. Bass licks from Malik Hunter and drum kicks from Zeb Horton gave the songs a new texture that most of the all-agers seemed to groove to.
Go ahead and get slap-happy if these boys come rumblin’ through your function.