Themselves | 3.25.09

live_themselves.jpgAfter 10 years this duo still knows what’s up.







The Firebird, St. Louis 

The Anticon collective has been paying St. Louis some love recently. Sole kicked off his last tour here, and now Themselves has done same. After celebrating Anticon’s 10th anniversary in December, dropping the deluxe version of their FREEHoudini mixtape (which you need to get now if you haven’t), and performing at SXSW, the band set an enthusiastic mood inside the Firebird. As it should be: it’s their first tour in almost eight years.

Watching Jel and Doseone manipulate their MPCs alone is impressive, but it doesn’t stop there. To see the fingers fly on YouTube barely prepares you for the real deal. Seeing them stay in sync is beyond “something else,” and even more sobering when you take into account that out of their whole set, opener “Dark Sky Demo” was the only song with cold sequencing. By all means it should sound digital and stiff, but they’ve found a way to break down the elements into a flowing, organic movement that not only destroys some hip-hop stereotypes, but also serves as a source of its own validation.

Dose comes off as a musician, performer and poet, often in the same breath, throwing syllables and gestures with a manic ferocity. He knows how to work a crowd, breaking out roses during “Poison Pit” and later riffing on George Lucas while holding a miniature crystal skull. “If any rappers want to get their face ripped off, they can come to me,” he says at one point. He is the anti-Billy Corgan.

They pulled mostly from The No Music, throwing in a few new tracks. It would’ve been cool to hear more from Them, or even “Thisbouthecitytoo,” but as a huge fan I can never be satisfied and I’m perfectly content with that. The semi-stripped-down performance of “Midas Gutz” from side-band Subtle was a definite highlight, showing off Doseone’s vocal versatility. I’ve waited years to seem Themselves live, and I can say that they do live up to the hype. | Bryan J. Sutter

Partial Set List
Dark Sky Demo
Poison Pit
Live Trap
You Devil You
Only Child Explosion
Midas Gutz
It’s Them

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