In addition to Front and Co., attendants were also treated to a trio of fine openers. KbaZ, a street-level cat that managed to work a dash of toasting into his set, started the night off right. He put on a hell of a show, despite the fact that he was given such an early timeslot, and warmed to joint up nicely for local seven-piece ThoughtCriminals.
Blending hip-hop and live instrumentation in the style reminiscent of Optimus Rhyme, Southside or Front's own hybrid, ThoughtCriminals really blew me away. With a trio of lively MCs, a solid rhythm section and well-placed guitars, keys and even the occasional Nintendo DS to layer melodies, the musical end of their set was as enjoyable as the on-stage antics. (Seriously, y'all, Rawzen pretty much danced for the entire show, not just his performance.)
After a freestyle finale that featured pretty much every rapper on the bill and a few that just so happened to be in the vicinity, eclectic duo Quantum Foundry took the stage. Boasting sharp rhymes, expertly-placed Troma samples and more than a little sweat, Quantum Foundry brought another level to the proceedings – including, if Agent Cataclysm is to be believed, a track in Mandarin – before turning the stage over to Frontalot.
This time around Frontalot's touring band consists of regular bassist, vocalist, and all-around fantastic gent Blak Lotus, that incomparable master of percussive arts The Sturgenius and freshly acquired keyboardist Vic-20. As this marks my fifth, if memory serves, Frontalot performance, I'll admit that, while I have long preferred the stage antics of The Sturgenius, I was initially disappointed that Gminor7 wasn't making an appearance this go-round.
After seeing the show, though, I rescind my earlier complaint. As much as I dig Gaby and the unique chemistry that exists between him and Front, Vic-20 is my new favorite tickler of the ivories in a live setting. Shit, not only is the aforementioned trio now my preferred backing lineup, I'll go so far as to say that this is the single best performance I've even witnessed by any combination of the MC Frontalot band.
Sturgis was as rock-solid as he ever was and dressed up new interpretations of old classics like "Goth Girls" aptly, Vic-20, the unknown element, was a veritable dynamo of hooks and snappy vocals and Brandon, who's always great fun on stage, was in the rarest of forms.
And lest I forget Frontalot himself, who, despite the tragic loss of his regular headlamp, whipped his way through a well-balanced set of traditional and brand new material in a manner most divine. This despite the appearance of that killer of performance inertia, drunk chick ™, who made a number of unfortunate stage-front appearances.
In summation, if you get a chance to check out Frontalot on this latest tour, you'd be wise to do so. Further, if you find yourself nearby my own rural locality, keep an eye out for the aforesaid openers ThoughtCriminals, who will, I dare say, be showing up in the playlist of forthcoming editions of Radio Free Hipster.
Yes, my friends, spring is in the air. As is hip-hop.