The 2011 City Arts Festival continued for me on Friday October 21 with Shabazz Palaces and Metal Chocolates at the Triple Door. KEXP’s DJ Riz was spinning mellow rnb/soul to warm up, with more hiphop during the break between acts.
Metal Chocolates featured rappers Rik Rude and OCnotes backed by a jazzy triphop trio including electronics and drums. Unlike Mad Rad, the rapping and music of their songs sounded less integrated to me, more like they came up with raps and then the backing band just made up something to match the rhythm, or vice versa. The songs felt fairly freeform too, starting and ending with no clear indications. I also felt that some of the more interesting musical details were too quiet and being drowned out by the louder rapping—which seemed odd to me, I’d have expected the sound at the Triple Door to be better balanced. All that said, I did enjoy the music, particularly the more energetic “Car Chase” that finished the set.
Shabazz Palaces have a very individual style of music. Their unusual songs feel very intellectual, requiring you to pay attention—for the most part, this was not background music, nor dance music. Although I liked their short set in this year’s Bumbershoot Music Lounge, I found it harder to get into this show, and I suspect that becoming familiar with their album first may be more rewarding. They brought out the ladies of THEESatisfaction to sing for a few numbers, livening up both the music and the audience. I did enjoy the singles I recognized, “An Echo from the Hosts that Profess Infinitum” and “Are You… Can You… Were You? (Felt)”—the latter is perhaps more conventional, but thus easier to grasp and more enjoyable. And I also really liked their use of live percussion, particularly elements such as the thumb piano which help define their distinctive sound. They’re definitely a band to watch, and maybe if I do I’ll come to appreciate their live performance more. I have no doubt the rest of the audience loved it.