For many in the audience, this was a night 15 years in the making, and this slightly aging crowd regained their youthful spirit amid a buzz of anxious chatter.
DJ Mahf opened up the show with a one-hour DJ set blending many popular new tracks with a fair helping of '90s flavor. The crowd was strangely unfamiliar with the local DJ, but all were quickly enamored with his skill and track selection which included favorites like the Digable Planets' "Rebirth of the Slick (Cool Like That)" and the quintessential Souls of Mischief cut, "93 'Til Infinity." By the end of his set, much of the crowd had already started to migrate to the front and vie for standing position.
Mahf was joined by Indyground compatriot and Kansas City emcee Steddy P to kick off the word-slinging portion of the show. The two have toured extensively together throughout the past year to promote numerous releases from the label including the recent While You Were Sleeping 2: End of the World Party. Steddy P came hard, leading with a selection of bangers to hype up the crowd with a mid-set, two-track feature from Farout. The crowd responded more notably to the tracks that were built from chill grooves and resembled the headliners' classic style than the vigorous and powerful songs that dominated the set, but they were certainly energized and appreciative of the twosome's ability to get the party moving.
After a brief hiatus, Mahf dropped the first Camp Lo track and the crowd fell silent for a brief moment of realization before erupting in cheers and screams. The Bronx duo made an entrance from the 14th Street doorway, each decked out in a nice coat, scarf, and fedora combination. They took their stances side by side on stage and immediately started the show. It was set to be a memorable night as Geechi Suede and Sonny Cheeba were going to perform their highly acclaimed debut album Uptown Saturday Night in its entirety as they have throughout the year to commemorate the 15 year anniversary of its release. Many in the audience knew all the words to every track, while most knew at least some of the words and screamed them out at every opportunity.
The small stage was confined by DJ set-ups on either side and didn't allow for much movement, but the veterans remained lively from their stable stances on stage. After performing the album for a decade and a half, the two emcees have mastered their delivery and flawlessly performed without a single noticeable slip of the tongue, despite the toothpick in Cheeba's mouth. Mahf had the honor of backing them up from the tables and meshed well, tactfully handling the cuts and the tempo changes track to track, each one resulting in instant cheers from the crowd. They performed each track from the album, obviously with the featured emcees removed, and made a brief announcement of some upcoming releases with producers Ski Beatz and Pete Rock. After a quick thank you and a final track from the album, they relinquished the stage as quickly as they took it.
The Vaporz took over the music for the remainder of the night, mixing a combination of DJs with a little bit of hype and delivering a set true to the classic elements of hip-hop. The crowd remained too thick to move to even to the bar or bathroom, but people were still fighting their way in to catch the aftermath of the great night. Camp Lo's performance was brief but straight to the point and performed with expertise and the crowd was anything but disappointed.
All photos by Wil Wander.