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Show Reviews
Live and Direct Tour

Show Date: 2005-09-04
Venue : Ventura Theater, Ventura, California
by Lee Fullington

You�d think Hieroglyphics would be a bit gun-shy about going on another cross-country tour after the Full Circle jaunt in 2003, the perils and hi-jinks of which were made available for all to see in the <i>Full Circle Tour Live</i> DVD. But here they are again, �live and direct� on a thirty-nine-city U.S. tour, accompanied by Non Phixion, Boom Bap Project, and a recent Hiero Imperium signing, O.C., of Diggin� in the Crates fame. The point of the tour? To bring together a diverse set of emcees and deejays from both coasts who share the same underground values and aesthetics (and, of course, to introduce O.C. to the Hiero fans).

Though the theater feels empty � it�s a cavernous space and people are either clinging to the bar or lounging on the various pieces of lawn furniture � most of the crowd members are pushed up against the stage in the orchestra pit, and they are into it. As soon as the Hiero crew takes the stage, the pit erupts. Tonight we get Del the Funky Homosapien, Pep Love, Souls of Mischief (Opio, A-Plus, Tajai, Phesto) and Domino and Toure on the decks. Casual was up in the Bay Area promoting his new record, Casual Presents Smash Rockwell. It would have been fabulous to hear his new tracks live, but the Ventura crowd will have to wait until next time.

Del�s clearly fucked up tonight, delivering his rhymes with eyes closed and having trouble dancing while the other emcees are on the mike. He�s trying, though, and every so often one of the crew will put an arm around him and help him out. But he never misses a rhyme, not even when his mike failed, as it did a few times, and the rest of the crew played pass the mike with him. They all know the words to each other�s rhymes, and watching them rap along with each other shows just how solid this crew is. The members don�t compete for attention; they just give each song and each emcee their all. Pep Love is the secret weapon tonight, though. His flow is tight and he�s holding it all together.

Hiero�s set is full of old classics, such as �Oakland Blackouts� and �After Dark� and Del�s �If you Must� and �Mr. Dobalina.� The emcees all do tracks off their solo records, so we get Pep Love dipping into his Ascension album and previewing a track from the yet-to-be-released Reconstruction. Opio hits us with a track from Triangulation Station. The solo stuff doesn�t get the crowd going, and the show drags a bit until they hit the fans with the stuff many of us cut our hip-hop teeth on: The Souls� signature track, �93 'til Infinity,� still sounds fresh after twelve years. �On and on and on and on� sums it all up � the fans who have been with Hiero since the early days know it � and �you never knew, it�s like that y�all hieroglyphics, yeah� closes the show.

Seeing eight men on the stage into what the others are doing is such a positive experience. Between the love on the stage and the love the crowd exudes, this is a night that renews my faith in hip-hop and community. At the close of the show, Opio encourages us to channel all this energy we�ve shared tonight into something positive: peace.

Discuss this review at The Prefix Message Board

- 2005-10-26
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