“We are warriors” El-P of Run the Jewels declares into the mic while telling the story of the last few days of the tour. Two bus breakdowns, the last one stranding the opening bands on the road, and a trailer fire that destroyed their merchandise (there’s a video of the aftermath of the fire floating around somewhere out there). After hearing the story, you understood why he said they were warriors.
Because of the bus and subsequent trailer fire, Despot and Rat King, the intended openers didn’t get to play (which was a huge disappointment). They were replaced by Memorex, a sample based musician, who did a good job (especially considering the last minute nature of his set) warming up the crowd before the main event and what an event it was.
El-P and Killer Mike (the other half of the mc duo) strolled onto stage to Queen’s We are the Champions. After everything that happened I can only imagine walking out on stage felt like a victory in itself. It was impressive watching RTJ knowing that they must be exhausted and frustrated but still giving a great show filled with non stop energy and involving the crowd as much as possible. At one point, the security pulled a woman out of the crowd who had been trying to crowd surf. El-P stopped the show to yell at security and got her up on stage offering to let her watch the show from the side. It was kind of heartwarming, watching him stand up for this random concert goer, calling the audience his family and showing some real respect for the people there. The young woman showed her appreciation by diving headlong back into the crowd as soon as his back was turned, but, hey, it’s the thought that counts, right? The electronic edged productions were a mix of droney synths and aggressive beats that both rappers rhymed over effortlessly. Looking around the room all you could see was an ocean of hands making the gun and microphone symbol and faces shouting along, showing that the love El-P had talked about was 100% mutual.
Murphy’s law states that “Anything that can go wrong will go wrong” and as long standing solo artists I’m sure both El-P and Killer Mike have seen their fair share of problems before Run the Jewels. Those years of experience really shine through in the way they deal with the small breakdowns and flaming catastrophes that can happen while touring, and still manage to give a strong, unforgettable performance.
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Review by Tristan Johnston