In a smoke-filled room, with bodies packed into the venue like sardines, a sold out show of people eagerly awaited the main headlining act, Run The Jewels. With their new IPA “Stay Gold” flowing through the lungs of so many people and the energy of Gaslamp Killer, Nick Hook, Gangsta Boo, and Cuz Lightyear’s explosive performances still lingering it the air, chants of R-T-J filled the air.
And the crowd goes R-T-J!
Soon enough, We Are The Champions by Queen reached our ears from the speakers and DJ Trackstar, El-P and Killer Mike hit the stage in full force. After a brief sing-along, El-P thanked the crowd for coming and helping sell out the show. They then went right into it with Talk To Me, followed immediately by Legend Has It. The crowd went absolutely nuts. There was something so surreal about hearing a sold out show of adults and kids alike singing every word back to the band and screaming “RTJ” during the break in Legend Has It; it literally shook the venue.
The band then went into “Blockbuster Night, Part 1” and “Oh My Darling Don’t Cry”. Aside from one song towards the end of the set, the crowd ate those two songs up. The energy was the highest it would ever be, clearly, they were fans of RTJ 2. It was great to see these two songs played live, especially since I didn’t get into Run The Jewels until the tour cycle for the 2nd album was already over. Their song with DJ Shadow, Nobody Speak, blasted through the speakers and Trackstar went off during the break. It was really a treat to watch him do his thing on the wheels of steel.
The group then returned and did a string of songs from RTJ 3 including: ”Hey Kids (Bumaye) ”, ”Stay Gold”, ”Don’t Get Captured”, ”Panther Like a Panther”, and ”Everybody Stay Calm”. El-P did a very funny bit on spoken word poetry right before getting into “Panther” and rocking the stage. The way Killer Mike and El-P talked to each other, always lauding each other and keeping the spirits high, along with their interactions with the crowd to segue into the next song was not only heart-warming and sincere, but it was flawless. There was never a dull moment and everything felt natural.
Once the low bass growl of “Love Again (Akinyele Back)” loomed through the venue, the crowd lit up yet again, getting a second wind and rapping the sexually charged lyrics, including Gangsta Boos’ verse when she arrived on stage. Killer Mike then got the crowd amped and got all of us chanting the chorus of “Lie, Cheat, Steal”, followed by them exploding into the full song, followed up by “Early”.
They thanked the crowd yet again, probably for the fourth time at this point, and went into the emotionally charged song “A Report to the Shareholders”. It was a tender moment to see everyone sway back and forth and put their hands in the air as El-P and Killer Mike discussed how they felt about starting Run The Jewels and the struggles going on in this nation. They closed their set with the song that started it all, that started the journey that brought them to where they are today; “Run The Jewels”. The lights went out, the show was over. The crowd was still thirsty for more. That’s when the Run The Jewels returned to the stage to perform two more songs; “Close Your Eyes (and count to fuck)”, and “Down”. Closing with “Down” was a great way to release all the energy, tension and emotion brought out from the explosive, bombastic set list.
The show was absolutely amazing. RTJ were able to keep the crowd engaged through the entire show while rapping their hearts out. Trackstar complimented their energy extremely well and his skills on the turntable definitely did not go unnoticed. I would definitely go see them again, just to be surrounded by that crowd and energy. Mostly everyone was extremely polite and helped each other out when it came to anyone dropping anything or falling down. It was also great to hear El-P mention that his family was in attendance. Overall, the show was brilliant, energy unmatched and crowd unwavering. Do yourself a favor and catch them whenever you can.