Blackalicious / SirReal / Curtis C Sugar Nightclub, Victoria BC, January 14

Blackalicious / SirReal / Curtis C Sugar Nightclub, Victoria BC, January 14
Photo: Kim Jay
On a night in which Blackalicious would bring the fun, Nanaimo's local MC Curtis C was rather humourless. Although he was a solid opening MC, all of his songs featured a recycled and tired grandiose statement about the world at large that proved tedious quickly. His hooks were infectious though, and his beat production was on point, always following the subject matter of his lyrics closely. The catchy "World on a Microchip," a set highlight, sported a zany melody and buzzing, compressed synths.
Next up, SirReal was channelling some serious Rage Against the Machine shit. Aided greatly by the presence of a live drummer and bassist, his set felt alive, rambunctious and defiant, like Check Your Head-era beastie boys, only occasionally veering slightly into Limp Bizkit territory. SirReal jumped around the stage like a madman, his backing band taking the energy higher with every spastic drum fill and sweeping bass line.
When Blackalicious hit the stage, it was obvious that although Gift of Gab's movements weren't going to be as lively as the other MCs, his wordplay would easily run circles around them, as expected. Instead of dancing with his body, he moved his hands like a conductor, carefully controlling his inflection and pace with a wagging finger and dancing palm.
I swear this guy didn't take a breath for the whole show. His silly voices on "Blazing Arrow," the plentiful call and response audience participation and his crushing spoken word on the song "Blacker" from their upcoming album all showcased a playful energy currently missing in hip hop. The willingness and the skill to engage with the medium, take it apart, mix it up and put it back together in new ways is always exciting, and Blackalicious did just that at Sugar Nightclub last night.