VAST AIRE with 4TH PYRAMID , KARNIEGE , DJ SERIOUS , SUBCON , ART I MISS and ISIS at the El Mocambo, July 8. Tickets: $17.50. Attendance: 214. Rating: NN Rating: NNNNN
Isis should have been billed as this show's headliner because she blew everybody off the stage last Saturday night.
Despite a hoarse voice the aftermath of a cross-Canada tour with Tumi & the Volume and Zaki Ibrahim she seized the attention of the all-ages El Mo crowd, which by 11 pm was as thick as it would get all night.
Ripping tracks from her Last Minute EP, DJ Serious in the back, Isis belted her rhymes over crystal-clear beats a concentrated wallop of hype before some okay yet indistinct short sets from MCs Subcon and Art I Miss .
"Okay, we're gonna take a 15-, 20- minute break go get your drink on, smoke your spliffs," said the host. Twenty minutes, half an hour, an hour, an hour and a quarter passed. By now people must have been pretty burnt out from those spliffs.
That 75-minute waiting time (fucking Lenscrafters makes glasses faster), combined with the El Mo's second floor feeling like a humidor in a greenhouse, made the show almost painful.
Finally, around 1 am, someone got onstage, but it wasn't even Vast Aire . Oh my god. At this juncture, presenting exhausted heads with Karniege , a not-well-known Brooklyn MC, who rocked an arduous, unfamiliar block of songs (his most famous track is Make News from the pretty terrible Def Jux compilation III), was a poor choice. Then at some point, the familiar, sluggish yet over-enunciated voice of Vast Aire from Cannibal Ox was heard. What, no intro? Nah big guy just sorta slinked out during Karniege's set and engaged his clunking flow. We caught Why'sDaSkyBlue and Back 2 Basics, featuring the inexcusably dumb line "What goes up must come down / sort of like balloons when you let go of them."
And while his beats sound nice in headphones, at the El Mo they were like muddy clumps of bass with no discernable melodies.
Aire, Karniege and another unannounced add-on, Toronto-based Def Jux signee 4th Pyramid , didn't seem aware of it, but you should know something's wrong when you're the main act and yet clearly see you're losing half the audience.
He went on forever, finally ending by braying "Make sure you buy my mix tape!" at the fleeing crowd.
Vast Aire should thank Isis for the bonus points she earned his show.