Live Thoughts: Shabazz Palaces at the Fine Line Music Cafe
Shabazz Palaces are, in my mind, the at the pinnacle of the creative rap game happening right now. The funky, worldly beats created by Tendai “Baba” Maraireand and Ishmael Butler, aka Palaceer Lazaro, the latter of whom provides the whip smart lyrics, have shined bright over a handle of EPs and their two Sub Pop released studios LPs. Each time I have seem the on their stops through the Twin Cities, starting with a scorching show for a small, sold-out crowd at the student center at the U of M, I’ve always felt like I was watching a band on the precipice of stardom. Their show last Thursday felt different. While the pieces were still there, the adventurous and funky songs, the immaculate coolness, the kinda choreographed moves, it felt like the crowd ready to take their heady ride had dwindled.
About half local rappers and producers, and half teens with x’s on their hands, it was a smaller crowd, and it definitely seemed like the lack of energy from the crowd got under the skin of Butler. Sound, tech and light issues didn’t help, but it felt almost like watching a band for the last time, the kind of show you think later that you would have appreciated more, despite the circumstances, because the people on stage were so damn good. The set lasted longer than I did, but they ventured between material from all stages of their career, and even under what felt less-than-optimal circumstances, the group brought it. Even as I was thinking about what I was seeing, feeling a bit morose that such a good band wasn’t selling out a larger club, I still marveled at the talent and creatively that was on stage. I hope I’m wrong and this was just an anomaly, but if it isn’t, don’t say we didn’t warn you that you should have caught this amazing act while you could.
The set was preceded by DJing and live sets from local Greg Grease-led crew ZuluZulu and Brooklyn electronic duo Eaters. Zuluzulu did a great job of setting the table for Shabazz Palaces, using a similar mix of deep grooves, warm-yet-abstract melodies, funky rhythms and bombastic but earthy rapping. Eaters felt wildly out of place with their industrial-leaning dance music, and even if I may have liked them in a different setting, I found their set grating and painfully long.
Full photo set from the show can be found HERE