The Scene: There was no line outside The Fox Theatre last Wednesday night and hardly anyone inside the theater when we showed up. The set times posted stated the show would be over by midnight, which I found odd for a Hip-Hop show. The crowd was a healthy mix of college kids and old school Hip-Hop heads all coming out to see self proclaimed “most successful fully independent duo in the history of Hip-Hop.” The Los Angeles based duo of Thes One and Double-K go by the name People Under The Stairs and have been doing their thing and rocking mic’s since 1997. Although they may have “fallen off,” or at least just left the public’s eye for a while, their die-hard fans still remain. As the opening acts finished up their early sets, the crowd thickened and anticipation grew for the People Under the Stairs to take the stage.
People Under The Stairs: The duo came out strong with double time rapping and a giant gold chain around the neck of Double-K. There were two turntables set up behind the rappers and Double K took turns between rapping his lyrics and heading back to the table to spin the wax. It was basically a lyrical onslaught for a solid 2 hours. With everything from the classic MC mantra “Get your hands up, get your hands up,” to the obligatory spray of beer over the crowd from a 40 oz bottle.
The People’s lyrics are both relevant to the world around us and just flat-out fun at times. Along the same vein as A Tribe Called Quest or other Hip-Hop nostalgia inducing acts, a huge draw to the duo is the fact that their sound is achieved through the use of all analog equipment. They haven’t succumbed to the digital world quite yet and this adds an old school feel to their songs, which goes perfectly with the lyrics they spit.
The only thing I had to complain about from last Wednesday was the sound quality in the Fox. P.U.T.S. have been a favorite of mine for a long time and the sound at the Fox has never really failed me. Unfortunately this time I caught off guard by the abrasiveness of the quality. The bass was not nearly as deep and full as it should have been and the treble found me covering my ears at times while boogying down. My friends and I may have been the only ones to notice this, but that aside everyone else in the building seemed to be having an absolute blast.
They played one long set of what seemed like their less known tracks with tracks off of their brand new release Highlighter, mixed in. The encore is what most of us had been waiting for the entire night. After a short break they came back to the stage to the beat that everyone in the room had surely rocked at full volume (much like the volume in the venue that night) a million times. The lyrics “When the stress burns your brain just like acid rain drops, mary jane is the only thing that makes the pain stop,” rang out over the sound system and the crowd erupted once again. The security was on point the entire night as I saw countless kids getting escorted out shortly after a small puff of smoke appeared over their heads. That still didn’t stop everyone from a little bit of indulgence as soon as “Acid Raindrops” began. They finished the encore with another classic that I had been singing along too since high school: “San Francisco Knights.” I’m not sure if it was just the fact that those were the two songs I was dying to see or if it actually took the sound guy the entire night to figure out there was something wrong, but I left the venue thinking to myself “damn it’s too bad their entire performance didn’t sound as crisp as the encore did.”
Overall, it was a good step away from the normal music scene that has taken over Colorado in recent years. It’s nice knowing that originators of the sound are still rocking shows to nearly sold out crowds and staying true to the old school roots that made them who they are. It’s also nice knowing a macbook and 15 midi controllers aren’t completely necessary to create a timeless sound. I feel younger folks may forget that, due to the overproduced massive digital sound jungle that producers are working with today. It was almost refreshing seeing a crew make music the “old fashioned” way.
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light show: C