The Pharcyde // Norwich Arts Centre, 29.07.12
Imani and Bootie Brown are the only 2 remaining members of phat 90’s hip hop crew The Pharcyde, creators of LP’s 'The Bizarre Ride to the Pharcyde' and the slightly less popular 'Labcabincalifornia'. Playing at the Arts Centre on a Summer’s evening must’ve felt pretty bizarre to these rappers from LA but the gig was sold out and the buzz at the venue was palpable. Full of 30 somethings (majority were men, as always at hip hop gigs) in plaid shirts and big jeans, I felt right at home as if it were 1993 all over again. After a rather poor set from the support (UK hip hop is pretty much always poor; although there was one guy who was pretty talented on the mic, the other seemed to be attempting poetry over dubstep. No thanks mate). We then waited for a whole hour for the main act to appear, they were 35 minutes later than anticipated! Although we were treated to some djing during that time it was very hot and very packed in there so we could really have done with them hurrying up. I also thought the DJ could’ve played some more popular and recognisable stuff instead of quite mundane and blah tracks.
The crowd were massively pumped by the time Imani and Bootie bounced onto to the stage, the roar of appreciation and excitement was the loudest I’ve ever heard at the Arts Centre. They then proceeded to run through many of their hits from all their albums including Humboldt Beginnings, their most recent LP, some only playing for 30 seconds as a little tease, some more extended. With a live drummer and keyboardist the jazz element became really noticeable and the DJ was loud and quick to respond. There was a lot of audience participation and everyone got down with it. We enjoyed all their classic tracks, 'Runnin’, 'Yo Mama', 'Passin’ Me By', 'Oh Shit' and 'It’s Jigaboo Time' along with other lesser known pieces from their albums. There was a definite reaction in the crowd when anything from 'Bizarre Ride...' was heard. People went MENTAL. And we all were rapping along at the top of our voices. Magic. I think most people would’ve liked it to be a gig of that modern phenomenon where the artist just plays straight through an album; there did seem to be that much of a difference in reaction to 'Bizarre Ride' vs Anything Else. It was so hot and so packed and people were so happy to be hearing hip hop live in Norwich; I wish there was more of this type of thing around these days...Go see them next time they come, yeah? If you can find a dancing space, that is.