On Thursday, April 24th Big Boi and Killer Mike took over Brooklyn Bowl for a stop on their “Shoes for Running Tour” which is hitting nearly 40 cities in a two month time period. Big Boi is touring in support of his second solo album, Vicious Lies and Dangerous Rumors while Killer Mike is touring for R.A.P. Music, the El-P produced masterwork which we absolutely love (naming it best album of 2012). Joining them was Fishhawk, an electo soul outfit from Atlanta who we were told are paying their own way through the tour just to get their music out to people.
Fishhawk opened up the night, expanding their two piece recording outfit into a four piece touring band. Lead singer Nick Nickerson was a dervish on stage; from the moment the first downbeat hit, his spastic shakes, and howling blue eyed soul vocals filed the cavernous stage of Brooklyn Bowl with a charismatic stage presence. Never one to remain in place for long, when Nick was confined to one space due to a particularly long note, he'd pick up the microphone stand and hold it aloft when zooming around like kid who'd overdosed on Pixie Stix. This energy was passed onto the crowd charming more and more people who came in and after each song they were rewarded with louder and louder clapping. Fishhawk provided a excellent warm up act that shook the lethargy from our own post job limbs and by the end had the notoriously fickle Brooklyn audience fully in Fishhawk's control and ready for the rest of the show.
What can one say about a Killer Mike performance? Part rap show, part fireside chat, always entertaining. In the year since R.A.P. Music was released, the rapper I knew predominately through the controversy surrounding the lyrics for “Burn” has become if not a household name, then a definitely a name everyone who has an interest in music knows. Though a constant grind of amazing videos, amazing live performances and his own Educated Villian Radio podcast, Killer Mike has grasped this well deserved fame and has not let go. He continues to work with EL-P (who jumped on stage during “Butane”), for Run the Jewels, a free collaborative album from Fool's Gold which will see him on tour with Despot and Kool A.D., nearly mirroring last year's “Into the Wild Tour.” If you haven't seen Killer Mike live yet, it's not his fault. It's yours. You should go see him immediately. If you don't know a thing about him, don't worry, he'll fill you in when you get there.
Big Boi played over thirty songs in about two hours hitting every song you would want from his solo career and from Outkast going so far as to take requests from the audience. Big Boi tore that stage up like the elder statesman of rap he is showcasing the strengths of twenty years in hip-hop. Backed with a live drummer, female vocalist and guitarist, joining the traditional hip-hop DJ and hype man, Big Boi condensed his set into multifaceted medleys which would run for three or four songs before discreetly blending into the next song. Pauses between these medleys would last mere moments, time for the drummer to catch his breath as Big Boi would say a sentence or two, at one point saying “you may notice I don't talk a lot, it's because I just want to give you as much music as I can” before launching into another set of hits. Joining him on stage was Killer Mike and together they ran through “Ready, Set, Go,” “ADIDAS,” “The Whole World,” and “Thom Pettie” before Mike returned backstage.
“Shoes for Running” was an excellent show featuring two of the largest names in Southern Rap (hell, all of rap) firing on all cylinders. Killer Mike continues to play the songs which have brought him acclaim and gives insight at each show as both as an artist and as a man. I wish that we knew more as to where he's going musically; although he was in Brooklyn with EL-P, we didn't get a preview of Run The Jewels. Big Boi may not have erased our memories that most of his success has been in the company of another. But he was able to use this show to leverage our enjoyment and nostalgia for those tracks into a love of his new tracks as he moved back and forth from the past to the present showing that everything fit in together seamlessly. It was one of the best shows I've seen this year and only serves to underscore how most rap shows are actually kind of boring.
You have many chances to see this awesome combination on the “Shoes for Running” tour and I suggest you take advantage of at least one of them.