Not even the cold weather could stop hip hop fans in Austin from heading out to Mohawk to check out one of Los Angeles’s most iconic groups from the nineties, The Pharcyde. No strangers to the Live Music Capital, the group was last here in November 2009 for Fun Fun Fun Fest. Unlike their FFFun Fest set, Saturday night was their spotlight to share and theirs only.
Before the Pharcyde’s set, two local hip hop groups did a damn fine job warming up the packed house for the headliners. Austin’s own Beta Player is a hip hop band a la’ N.E.R.D. or The Roots. Now while they are not quite at the level of those two hip hop majors, they aren’t that far from it. They mixed other genres such as blues, rock and indie with hip hop just as well as anyone else in hip hop. Perhaps it was the setting or the presence of hip hop icons on Saturday that energized them, but Beta Player’s performance was on point and they deserved the applause they received after their set.
Crew 54 from Killeen, Texas just up the road from Austin, followed Beta Player. A dual MC outfit with a live drummer, Crew 54’s style was more dirty south style party band. Although their songs were full of repititious hooks and little else when it came to lyrics, their beats were good enough to keep the crowd nodding their heads and throwing their hands up when they instructed them to do so. What saved their performance from mediocrity more than anything was their stage presence and energy. Like anyone at any hip hop show should, Crew 54 were enjoying themselves, even dancing to different popular hip hop songs in between their own. Despite not being in my personal taste realm, Crew 54 did their job by keeping an anxious crowd hyped up.
After Crew 54’s set ended, Mohawk looked like it was at full capacity. As soon as The Pharcyde took the stage, minus their fourth member Fatlip, everyone cheered as their classic song “Drop” came through the speakers. Things slowed down a bit when Imani introduced everyone to a couple of new songs. While they weren’t bad and sounded very much like their old ones, it was of course the classics off of Bizarre Ride II that everyone came to hear.
And what good is hip hop show without the groups pulling girls onstage to shake their asses? At most shows it is one of the most enjoyed moments, but as discovered at last year’s Big Boi concert, hipster hoppers who attend these concerts in Austin lack rhythm and the necessary booty size to really get down right on stage. While we all enjoyed looking at the disco era gold-colored pants one “dancer” was wearing, and the Latina with the chest tattoo, it was awkward to watch. Yes I just wrote that, and if you were there then you were thinking it too unless of course you were “that girl”.
“Otha Fish” brought everyone back to that nineties time warp they came for and started to really enjoy themselves again, ignoring their iPhones and “crackberries”. Calling for an encore, The Pharcyde of course came back to the stage to close out the party in hopes of one more classic. Their show was yet even more proof that hip hop is alive and well in Austin and that Austinites love them some Pharcyde.
(The Pharcyde performed at Mohawk in Austin, Texas on January 22, 2011)