A few years ago I was invited by CityBeat to share some journal entries I had been jotting down while touring over in Europe. These entries somewhat led to my current side hustle of faux-journalism with the paper. I’m on tour again and CityBeat offered me another crack at documenting our experiences up and down the interstates. This time I’m on tour with some Ohio-based friends and artists for the Ohio Takeover Tour (in Cincinnati tonight at The Drinkery, the new club in the old Jefferson Hall space on Main Street), so the shows (and adventures around the shows) have a bit more meaning.
Since I’m writing a tour blog, I’m using it as an excuse to forgo some of my usual “editing” and “proper sentence structure." From here on out, I’m dressing up my literary ignorance as artistic rebellion.
So, a quick summary of the cast of characters in this story:
J. Rawls – Columbus Producer/DJ, known for his production and work with such acts as Black Star, Madlib, Beastie Boys, Sadat X, Diamond D and various other really cool Hip Hop people.
Illogic – Columbus Emcee, known for his catalogue of independent Hip Hop releases, touring the country alongside folks like Soul Position, Atmosphere, Eyedea and releasing music with guys like Blueprint, Aesop Rock, Slug, and a bunch of other cool Hip Hop people
L.e For the Uncool – Columbus emcee, known at first as a member of the group Fly Union, more recently known for killing shit on some national stages, notably CMJ last October and SXSW last month, and making some really dope music with some really cool Hip Hop people.
Micshon Harper (VoiceOfRzn Management) – Tour Manager, my manager, Illogic’s manager.
Myself – Dayton/Cinci/Columbus emcee/producer.
Oxford, Ohio, April 8
Our first official date of this tour was actually last Friday with my dude Rideout and the band Soundscape. Not so much an actual set (J. Rawls had a previous engagement), myself, Illogic, L.e and Rideout bounced back and forth on stage, playing off the band. Sort of a soft launch to the tour, we all got an opportunity to figure out our stage mechanics, chemistry and communicative skills before the biggest show of the tour (so far) would hit.
Since we had a week before our first “organized” set, we had plenty of time for rehearsals. Matching schedules for rehearsals slimmed the time down considerably (one of the problems that comes with group endeavors), but everyone pulled through and we got it in. Headed to Dayton to press up some merch as we all suited up for our first set in Columbus.
Columbus, Ohio, April 15
There were a lot of rappers rapping about rapping at this show. Talib Kweli was the headliner and we were added in as his opener (alongside a J. Rawls set). Previous to the show, there was a local radio competition involving lots of performances drawn out for the first hour and a half, which in turn drew the night out a little longer than I would’ve hoped for. The crowd was beginning to feel restless as well. At this point, the host, in a moment of anxiousness; has begun to ask the crowd if they’re “Ready to see Talib Kweli?” And, of course, the crowd goes apeshit, mainly out of impatience and desperation.
Then, they brought out an opener (i.e. us). This pissed the crowd off, which in turn makes it reeeeeally hard for an opener to go in, as the crowd is not trying to hear anyone but the headliner now. So we basically walked on stage to boos.
But, we walked off the stage to cheers.
Personally, it was probably one of the more defining points of the tour, an opportunity to see everyone on the same page, ready to just go in and kill shit on stage to the point where the set was undeniable. I think at one point before we went on, folks might’ve wanted to cut our set, though I’m not sure. But as we already had two camera crews and a merch table out, not to mention folks who came out strong to see us, we weren’t really in the business of stepping off stage.
So we got our bars off and bounced. Probably one of my favorite shows in recent memories. Walking into a hail of boos and turning them into cheers and applause feels like some 300 warrior shit, just running into a skyline of arrows, throwing your shield up and walking steadily past them.
It was a great way to start the tour and gave us a chance to see just how potent our set could be for the remainder. Check out some video footage from the Ohio Takeover Tour below and stay tuned for more Ohio Takeover Tour entries as the tour continues.