While everyone was waiting to get piss drunk in celebration of the color green on Saturday, Black Milk stopped by House of Blues last Friday night. Despite some unpleasant surprises at the outset, he rocked a solid, funky set to close the night.
I was excited before the show because I had heard it had sold out. I couldn't believe there were that many hip-hop heads willing to come out for the Detroit producer-rapper.
Well, it turns out there weren't. The show actually took place in one of HOB's smaller rooms. The stage was a small, makeshift platform with a surface area equivalent to maybe three computer desks, and Black Milk had to set up a four-piece band there. The small room was also half-empty, with many audience members attending only to support their high school friend who was one of several opening acts.
Disappointment aside, Black Milk tore it up. It's often hard to pull off hip-hop with a live band unless you're from Philly and your day-job is playing in Jimmy Fallon's house band. But Black Milk is a producer first and that may have been the key that night. Putting together a beat is like conducting different elements of an orchestra, only except for live musicians, you have drum pads and samples that you have to assemble yourself.
Black Milk was able to translate those skills successfully from the studio to the stage. He kept full control of the band as they ran through various hits from his Tronic and Album of the Year records. It was all very fun and loose, resembling more of a funk show than a hip-hop show.
I should also give special mention to one of the openers, El-Gun Legro. He came out in cargo shorts, a leprechaun vest and his signature, modified-jheri-curl wig. During his set, he threw out foam glowsticks and weird hats that looked like Tigger from Winnie the Pooh with dreadlocks. Thankfully, he had the rapping chops and the charisma to pull it off pretty well, though he veered dangerously close to "novelty act" territory. Overall, it was a fun night. If only there had been more people there to experience it!
Quan Vu Quan Vu is the founder and editor of local music blog SD Raps.com. He has also written about local and national hip-hop acts for San Diego CityBeat and the San Diego Reader. You can nerd out on rap trivia by becoming BFF's on Facebook or e-mailing him directly.