The Cool Kids / Blake Carrington Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON August 27

The Cool Kids / Blake Carrington Lee's Palace, Toronto, ON August 27
Photo: Kevin Jones
When old-school hip-hop revivalists the Cool Kids rolled through town a year ago to play to a room full of seasoned heads with little patience for nostalgia-pimping new-schoolers, the odds were sorely stacked against them at that Rock the Bells appearance. This time around, however, in front of the sea of genuine supporters at Lee's Palace, MCs Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks found a far more sympathetic environment for their style-first flare.

First up, though, was local show-opener Blake Carrington, who did his best to let the crowd know he was no simple time filler, and were it a battle of the relative unknowns, he may even have upstaged the main act. The throwback rhyme spitter brought fire and energy throughout, commanding the stage and engaging the crowd as if he was at home in the basement in front of his closest friends. Fellow guest MCs - including his own brother - did their bit and got out of the way like good hype-men should, as Carrington threw everything from a short beat-boxing routine to a humourous, instructional girl-snatch-and-grind bit with the mic stand, making for a stellar set.

With the stage properly set, the Cool Kids strolled out rockin' their now obligatory Air Jordan Retros and quickly showed the maturity earned through a year of touring, plowing through cuts off their Bake Sale debut with well-planned efficiency. While the two lyricist responded admiringly as fans shook the room to clear favourites "A Little Bit Cooler," "Bassment Party" and "88" (flipped over Slick Rick's "Children's Story" instrumental), actual interaction was kept to a minimum, aside from a few rehearsed call-and-response moments.

With a steady stream of '80s and '90s imagery projected on a screen in the background, the two lyricists wrapped things up with their tight showing of the smash single "Black Mags" to much fanfare before slipping off stage, receiving few arguments in the process from an audience that clearly wasn't expecting an encore. Though hardly a night of memories, a tangible sense of satisfaction was certainly felt on the way out the door.