The Los Angeles-based Hellfyre Club invaded the Lower East Side on Thursday night and rocked a packed Mercury Lounge with 3+ hours of eclectic indie rap. Touring in support of Dorner vs. Tookie, the diverse 4-man crew of Open Mike Eagle, Busdriver, Milo and Nocando delivered wit, crowd interaction and humor all blanketed by the bright visuals of director/rapper WC Tank.
Two years after I caught a mediocre performance from Nocando at the Soda Bar in San Diego, the man showed genuine signs of transformation. If his heart wasn’t in it before, it’s unmistakably there now. He started his set with an acapella verse, wove in substantial new material and finished with a track set to Atmosphere’s “Denvemolorado“, all to hearty applause.
Open Mike Eagle followed and delivered a set worthy of the snowballing hype. His name was chanted during and post-set, his delivery was as effortless as it was flawless, and his shout-rap second verse on “Password” remains one of the most fun things one can witness at a hip hop show in America.
“Fuck those white girls with Indian headdresses.” – Milo (“Xergiok’s Chagrin”)
Milo‘s set couldn’t quite capture the excellence of his recorded material. His gloomy intellectual approach may play more to a stoned-at-home audience than a live Manhattan one, or perhaps he just had an off night. The kid is brilliant though, makes music worthy of its lofty titles, and will likely be a tremendous performer by the age of 25 if his interpretive dance skills are any indication.
Busdriver did his thing over the course of a challenging 45-minute set before the core members of Hellfyre Club joined forces to punctuate an engrossing night of heady rap music. Though they don’t generate a particularly high rate of plays at your local Cinnabon, Hellfyre is a crew you should be paying attention to in 2014.