Author: David Heinrich
Wednesday, February 15th, 2017 was a day that I was looking forward to for quite a while. It was the night that Run the Jewels were scheduled to bring their current tour to the Orpheum Theater. And boy, what a night it was.
Run the Jewels started off their set by walking out to Queen’s “We Are the Champions” which got the audience in a great mood. As soon as that was done, though, RTJ were ready to throw down. The crowd was just as excited as I was, and as soon as the first note of the first song’s beat was heard, everyone’s hype manifested into a moment of pure excitement. The crowd was a little rough at first from a pushing standpoint, but pretty soon everyone situated themselves in their respective spaces and got ready to rage.
Killer Mike and El-P chose to play a lot of material from their new album Run the Jewels 3, beginning with the song “Talk To Me”. This is one of my favorites off of the new album, and it was awesome to hear that one, “Legend Has It”, and “Call Ticketron” back to back to back. Mike and El interacted with the crowd a lot, rapping specific parts at the die-hard fans in the front row, joking around in between songs, and in general, fostering a community atmosphere in the theater. It was really heart-warming, honestly, when at one point Mike started going off about how if you feel alone in your frustration with the world, their is a community of like-minded people in the theater with you right now that will support you and help fight against oppression everywhere. It’s no secret that Run the Jewels are a more political rap group than most, but it was still really cool to see them get so engaged with the audience over commonly-held beliefs. Another really cool aspect of the show was their vocals in general. At some other rap concerts I’ve been to, I won’t single anyone out (G-Eazy), the artist didn’t rap all of the words to their verses and was more of a hype man for their own songs, jumping up and down on stage and singing intermittently. Run the Jewels put on the exact opposite kind of show. No matter how fast or challenging the verse was, Killer Mike and El-P spat every syllable with perfect accuracy and high intensity. It was one of the most impressive performances of live vocal dexterity that I’ve ever seen at a concert.
Some other highlights from their set were “Stay Gold” and the high-energy “Panther Like a Panther” which began with El-P rapping the first part in a poetry slam style. It was in stark contrast to that beginning when the beat dropped and everyone went crazy during the main section of the song. They eventually threw it back a little by playing “Lie, Cheat, Steal” and “Run the Jewels” off of RTJ2 and their first album. The encore consisted of “Close Your Eyes (And Count to Fuck)” and the first track off of RTJ3, “Down”. These two were perfect songs to end the night with, and I left the theater fully satisfied with my RTJ experience. If you ever get the chance to catch these guys live, I’d recommend taking it: it was a show I won’t soon forget.