Run the Jewels
February 24th @ House of Blues
By: Joe Ruane and Ben Shmidt
February was a month full of rebellion for the city of Boston, with protests of varying size occurring on an almost daily basis. The Run The Jewels show on February 24th felt very much like a continuation of those protests, containing many tracks from their recently released third album, Run the Jewels 3. Killer Mike and El-P, one of the ultimate rap duos, have never been afraid to be political–many songs reflecting their stance on contemporary politics and current events.
An opening DJ has an incredibly difficult task. They must warm up a crowd and keep them interested, but not tire them out before the main act. Nick Hook took this task very seriously, intertwining live drum pad work with chopped up samples. The set was hectic and messy at times, but his willingness to experiment and not take himself too seriously led the audience in having a good time. Hook also brought an entourage of musical guests with him–Cuz Lightyear, Harvard professor Tef Poe, and Three 6 Mafia’s own Gangsta Boo. After all of Hook’s rap accompanied beats, second act The Gaslamp Killer played a set with heavy psychedelic influences, combined with trap beats and turntablism. He seemed slightly out of his element performing for a crowd of rap fans, but he struck plenty of high notes with the audience throughout his performance.
After a short wait, Run the Jewels emerged in all of their shining glory–Killer Mike wearing a large gold chain and El-P rocking his signature shades. Upon reaching center stage, the duo raised their hands in the iconic fist and gun, under a bigger, inflatable fist and gun hanging above their heads. Behind them was the elevated DJ booth containing DJ Trackstar, mixing for the crowd throughout the show. He would take the spotlight in a few songs for a scratch solo while Killer Mike and El-P bounced around the stage.
Both El-P and Killer Mike are experienced entertainers, as they made the show feel special and unique to the time and place in which it was performed. They were aware of their placement on the stage, keeping themselves balanced on either side of the DJ booth, coming together directly in front of the booth during high points in the song. By splitting themselves up like that, they were able to pay individual attention to each half of the crowd, making for a very engaging experience.
As the night came to a close night, the concert served as a catharsis for political unrest and angst. With a high profile release like Run The Jewels 3, it is easy to see how Killer Mike and El-P are two premier artists using their music as a platform to speak about contemporary issues, something needed in this day and age.