Transmitting sounds from outer space, Seattle experimental hip-hop duo Shabazz Palace moseyed on to the stage in the mid-afternoon. You wouldn’t exactly say they “tore it down” – one tweeter captured them in a ubiquitous term: fresh – but you only need to catch a glimpse of them to see their approach.
Drawing connections is a running theme in black music, and here you see producer Tendai “Baba” Maraire channeling his best George Clinton with his loud, pinkish-tinted sunglasses as he played his drums adorned with African patterns. Ishmael Butler, aka Palaceer Lazaro, rhymed, but rarely looked away from his MacBook as if he was trying not to forsaken the interstellar force he was channeling. The audience remained transfixed on the scene as they put their hands in the air for the adrenalinized complexities of “Youology” and excitedly shook their hips to “Gunbeat Fails”.
It was a mix of reactions, really, but that’s expected for an act as obtuse as Shabazz Palaces. But there was an almost universal breather when the duo invited fellow Sub Pop labelmates THEESatisfaction for “Swerve… The reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)” — a national black anthem from the year 2400. It would help the earned moment if Cat Satisfaction’s bridge wasn’t hampered by sound issues. That’s one of the things space forces couldn’t overcome.