w/ Name UL
Shed 6, Wellington
Wednesday 8 April 2015
Watching Wellington rapper Name UL tear up the stage was much the same as last time I saw him. He gave a valiant effort attempting to pump up the crowd, but there wasn’t much of a crowd present to be pumped up. I’ll give him credit, Name UL has skills and potential, it just seems that the reception has been a bit lacklustre both times I’ve seen him perform. I’d love to see him in a packed club, where he could really set a crowd off with his energy.
The venue was largely empty, set up with the stage at the North end. This left me feeling a bit disoriented for a bit, seeing as the stage had been at the South end for the Gary Clark Jr show just over a week ago. At first it seemed like it would be a quiet mid-week gig, but the place slowly filled up with time.
I’ve seen a range of different hip hop acts in the past, but never a full crew like Jurassic 5. The four emcees, Chali 2na, Akil, Soup, Mark 7even; along with DJ’s Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist, put on one of the most lively and entertaining shows I’ve seen in a long time.
Having multiple emcees and DJ’s really filled out the sound. It was more than rapping – it was musical. There was singing and there were harmonies. Any one of them alone would have been impressive, but the way that they tag teamed and bounced off each other added to the vocal dynamics. The mix was great and all the lyrics could be clearly heard. The delivery was flawless, clearly the product of many, many hours of rehearsing. The emcees obviously enjoyed themselves as they danced about onstage and took turns delivering lines.
One of the highlights of the night was the DJ battle. Cut Chemist and DJ Nu-Mark came to front of stage with all sorts of ridiculous instruments. Nu-Mark set down a beat using a portable trigger pad. Cut Chemist responded by scratching on a portable turntable strung around the back of his neck. Nu-Mark stepped it up by playing a contraption he’d made from multiple old records. They then teamed up to play an oversized record player that dominated the centre of the stage. One would spin the large “LP” that played a Run The Jewels track, while the other would flick the switches on the mixers. If you’re trying to imagine it: the record was about the size of a large round coffee-table.
J5 really worked the crowd. The set was split into acts. Chali 2na, would introduce new segments, saying “And for this part of the show…” in his deep baritone voice, before explaining what he wanted the audience to do. They had the crowd opening and closing their hands, fist pumping, riding invisible motorcycles and witnessing old Western shootouts. These moments seemed silly and gratuitous, but were fun nevertheless and added interactive components to the set.
To show that they really were there to please, they asked the crowd for requests of obscure songs from the band’s back catalogue. “Now you already know we’re going to play ‘What’s Golden’. But what else do you want to hear? Think of something that you don’t expect us to play!” The set covered hits from every album, and the request session surely left even the most die-hard fans satisfied.
Not only was it a stellar hiphop show, but there was so much more. You come to expect rapping and dancing from a hip hop show, but you know that you’ve witnessed something special when the set involves DJ battles and a kazoo solo. Jurassic 5 are true entertainers in every sense. They were all very talented, but more importantly, they were fun.