Jurassic 5 | 08.30.06

Although the loss of DJ Cut Chemist prevented the back-and-forth spins that were highlights of past shows, Nu-Mark effectively picked up the slack with some inventive choices.

 

The Pageant, St. Louis

 

Photo by Todd Owyoung 

With their old-school style, Jurassic 5 stands apart from most modern hip-hop groups. Paying direct homage to early pioneers like the Sugar Hill Gang, the four MCs and one DJ (formerly two) consistently provide entertaining live shows that directly involve the audience. With recent appearances on the Warped Tour and at festivals like Bonnaroo, they have crossed over (almost entirely) to a white audience, but have never attained immense popularity. Their new album Feedback appears specifically designed to draw a larger audience, with mixed results. While innovations reminiscent of 2000's Quality Control do appear at times, too many tunes shift into party-jam territory.

Playing to an enthusiastic crowd at The Pageant, Jurassic 5 remained genuine, delivering an entertaining, career-spanning set. While it may have fallen short of their masterful Power in Numbers show a few years ago, this night's performance still included plenty of enjoyable moments. Opening with "Back 4 U" and quickly jumping into audience favorite "I Am Somebody," the guys kept things moving throughout the 90-minute set. The newer tracks received a friendly, though less excited response, but that is no surprise considering the success of their two previous records. Performing on an elevated platform above the MCs, DJ Nu-Mark spun the beats and shined on several extended solos. Although the loss of DJ Cut Chemist prevented the back-and-forth spins that were highlights of past shows, Nu-Mark effectively picked up the slack with some inventive choices.

While Chali 2na, Soup, Akil, and Marc7even's new rhymes might not match their best work, they still adequately showcased what makes live J5 so memorable-the crew's top-notch rapping skills. On "A Day at the Races," the fast-paced beats offered a prime opportunity to show off those skills. The classic "Concrete Schoolyard" offered a nostalgic homage that didn't feel conventional, leading to plenty of smiles all around. "Freedom" gave them a chance to deliver a short but poignant political message that was more than welcomed by the audience. The encore included the Dave Matthews Band-supported new single "Work It Out," an average tune that suffers in comparison with Jurassic 5's best work. Set standards like "What's Golden" were stronger than ever, with new tracks "In the House" and "Radio" deserving mention.

X Clan opened the show with the same effective blend of upbeat sounds and political messages that catapulted the group onto the charts in the early '90s. With that infectious mix intact, the group has recently re-emerged to announce the release of a new record, due in October. While they're missing a key original member—Professor X passed away this spring from meningitis—X Clan still delivered a solid set. Brother J's voice remains a strong factor in delivering their act's Afrocentric message. During the concert's closing moments, he returned for Jurassic 5's freestyle session that completed the evening on a positive note.

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