Jurassic 5 @ the Commodore 24/6/17
How do you pack an empty dance floor and hype up the crowd for a show by rap legends Jurassic 5? Dunks (The Funk Hunters) and Thomas Workshop (The Soul Hop Committee) were probably asking themselves the same question when they took to the decks at the Commodore last weekend (June 24th). Supporting the socially conscious LA rap collective on their two-stop Vancouver tour is no small feat but the guys from Lazy Syrup Orchestra managed to get the crowd on their toes and whip them up into a (slightly boozy) frenzy with gloopy soulful sounds and big funky beats and the help of various members of bands Love You Miss You & Wooden Horsemen.
After a shaky start with some shout outs that had a wedding DJ disco vibe, the group found their groove with the combination of live instruments and MCs being a big hit. By the end of the set (their first Vancouver show despite being local) the crowd was eagerly waiting for the beat to drop. The dance floor was jammed for the arrival of Jurassic 5 – the harmonizing alternative American group that have been a ray of sunshine on the rap scene since the early 90s. Having broken up in 2007 (getting back together in 2013), all six of them were back for a two-night stint at the Commodore.
DJs Cut Chemist and Nu-Marc took to the stage first to scratch battle it out, hyping up the crowd so the four MCs could burst onto the stage to rapturous applause – there might be few grey hairs but they showed from the get-go that they still have the rhythm that makes your fingers snap, crackle, pop pop, fizz fizz. It was a high energy performance from J5, with Zaakir and Marc7 shining, Akil putting down some break-dancing moves whilst clutching a bejewelled mic, and Chali 2na bringing his gravelly baritone – which has also been a central part of his side project Ozomatli world music performances over the years.
Blasting through fan favourites from Jurassic 5 and Quality Control – they took it back to the concrete streets early on with Concrete Schoolyard, with the crowd singing most of the lyrics, but kept the momentum up for a long set that ended in experimental encores as people shouted out for songs to be played and the guys seemed to be enjoying it too much to leave the stage. Throw in an epic scratch battle featuring Cut Chemist’s guitar made of turntables, plus plenty of crowd interaction – cue power fist pumping along to Freedom – and you’ve got an infectiously energetic show that saw the Commodore packed to the rafters, with a sea of happy people moving as one to that classic rap shit from Jurassic.