Public Enemy / The Bomb Squad / Juiceboxxx Element, Victoria BC May 28

A sign on the venue door informing patrons that Flavor Flav wouldn't be performing due to a "personal emergency" was nothing new for a Public Enemy concert in BC. During the band's 28-year career, Flav has repeatedly been a no-show when it comes to concerts on Canada's West coast.

Luckily, Milwaukee's Juiceboxxx quickly made everyone who was steamed about Flav's absence forget their worries and crack a smile. The scrawny white rapper was a mix of Andrew W.K. and a jilted emo rocker. He demanded the audience's attention, often jumping down into the crowd to antagonize them. His raps were weak but his performance was commanding.

The spectacle that is Public Enemy began with the original Bomb Squad taking the stage to warm things up, hocking CDs and T-shirts while Keith Shocklee spun some beats. Shocklee is the sample man behind PE's classic album Fear of a Black Planet, and the crowd could sense they were in for a treat.

Sure enough, when Chuck D hit the stage with his S1Ws and the live Public Enemy band, he promised material exclusively from Black Planet and the band's other landmark release, 1987's It Takes a Nation of Millions to Hold Us Back. D then announced that DJ Lord, along with the already-absent Flavor Flav, would not be playing the group's final show on this tour. Instead, the crowd would be treated to DJing by Shocklee, whose beats hit hard — so hard they often drowned out the live band, who were more than adept in their own right. Classic tracks like "Bring the Noise," "Fight the Power," "Burn Hollywood Burn" and "Can't Truss It" sounded unbelievably loud and bangin'.

But Chuck D owned this performance, due to his larger-than-life stage presence and the sheer power of his rhymes. It was evident that he fuels the PE fire, taking time between each song to hit on the hard issues.

By the time Public Enemy got to their encore, the momentous "She Watched Channel Zero," complete with blazing guitar solo, no one in the crowd seemed to miss Flavor Flav or DJ Lord. But since when are Public Enemy ones to disappoint?