Published Jul 16, 2015In 2013, El-P and Killer Mike played separate, back to back shows at Ottawa Bluesfest, but overlapped their sets in order to give the scarce few who showed up early a taste of their brand new musical project, titled Run the Jewels. Two years later, the mighty RTJ made their return to Bluesfest, headlining one of the festival's five stages before hundreds of fervent fans.
Walking out to Queen's "We Are the Champions," El-P and Killer Mike stood at the edge of the stage, lip-synching the apropos lyrics while trading off their "pistol and chain" hand symbols with members of the pulsating crowd. Launching into a set of songs from their two studio albums, including fan favourites "Run the Jewels," "Banana Clipper" and "Get It" — along with a raucous version of "Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)" that created a rare Bluesfest mosh pit and sparked a bevy of crowd surfers — El-P and Killer Mike played well off of the crowd's unbridled energy.
Seizing their moment, the duo pulled the audience together for some classic call-and-response on tracks like "DDFH," "Sea Legs" and "Lie, Cheat, Steal," as El-P jumped frantically around the stage, matching Mike's funky dancing and Trackstar the DJ's fervent old school scratching.
After ending their brief 40-minute set (due to them starting 20 minutes late), Run the Jewels were called back to the stage, closing off the night with a rendition of "Angel Duster" that found the duo looking gracious and humbled by how far they've come in just two short years.