THA LIKS with HARPOON MISSILE, MASTERMIND, LIVING LEGENDS and DEFARI at the Opera House, February 17. Tickets: $35. Attendance: 612. Rating: NNN
the best performance i saw sun-day night happened long before Tha Liks took the stage at the Opera House. A pair of tipsy thugs with vodka-filled Evian bottles stuffed in their parkas sat across from me on the Broadview streetcar. They let fly with a sick freestyle about blunts and hiphop bravado that perfectly captured the good-time vibe championed by crews like Tha Liks.
After that stripped-down set, none of the official acts seemed quite as fresh.
Clad in army fatigues and camouflage do-rags, local rap-rock assault machine Harpoon Missile delivered an intense opening set. Stage freak Warchild made like he was tossing back shots of gasoline while MC Harpoon delivered raspy Rage Against the Machine-style growl-rants over thundering bass.
The one moment of respite from the Missile's vicious attack came during the slinky R&B-inflected joint I Try, inspired by the brothers' struggles with, as Harpoon put it, "the system and the mamas of our babies."
It was jarring to hear that chill, reflective track followed by a triumphant cry of "How many niggaz goin' home with some pussy?"
Cali crew the Living Legends were less about getting some and more about the big picture, kicking off their set with a "Fuck war!" shout-out, then effortlessly layering their raps till you couldn't tell who was on the mike.
But by the end of the Legends' hour-long set, dudes in the back were jonesin' for some Liks.
Tha Liks are still working the same hard-partying bad-boy bit.
After DJ E-Swift led the crowd in a hilarious rendition of the Cheers theme song, J-Ro (who dubbed the T-dot his second home) and Tash tore onto the stage. Their set was tight, with E-Swift mixing up old-skool soul and rubbery techno beats and the MCs taking tokes off proffered joints and dedicating tracks about drunken escapades to the bartenders.
Tash's impressive killer freestyle halfway through the set demonstrated that Tha Liks' skills go beyond their image.
But the b-boys on the Broadview streetcar still blew my mind more than anyone onstage.