Photos: Shabazz Palaces, Not Too Shabazzy

On Thursday night, a captivating parade of psychedelic hip hop and space-funk beamed down into the Eclectic ballroom in the form of performances by Seattle-based rap duo Shabazz Palaces and R&B duo THEESatisfaction. Here’s evenstevens weighing in on THEESatisfaction’s performance:

These ladies were killer, with a tight, controlled sound while also totally getting into a funky groove that was felt throughout the house. Sometimes, especially with hip hop, it’s hard to have quality sound in the Eclectic ballroom, but these two totally had it down, and their awesome vocals were clear and beautiful. More subdued than one might’ve expected, Irons and Harris-White made up for any sort of lull with their talented voices and exciting blend of neo-soul and rap. And when these two came back on stage during Shabazz Palaces’ set, they brought the concert to a whole other level that made for some incredible songs.

Here’s Tuna on Shabazz Palaces’ set:

After a few minutes of finding their groove, Shabazz Palaces played a long, gripping, and ridiculously funky set. With Ishmael Butler aka Palaceer Lazaro on the mic and mpc and Baba Maraire (aka The Guy Who Resembles T-Pain) on drums and backing vox, the deep-space hip hop sounds moved the crowd for over an hour. Once I got to the wing of the stage, I could see how live the show was: Butler and Maraire were creating virtually all the layers with the pads, hi-hats, shakers, and effects on the spot. This was refreshing for a concert that in less talented hands would have employed backing tracks and eschewed riskier live instrumentation.

Palaces performed a few recognizable songs from Black Up, like insane crowd-pleaser “An echo from the hosts…,” “Youlogy,” “Swerve…,” and my personal favorite, “Endeavors for Never…,” which brought THEESatisfaction back onstage as featured vocalists. They played a lot of songs I didn’t recognize —either from their older EPs, or newer music they’ve worked on since their 2011 album. Unfortunately, the complex beats tended to overshadow much of Butler’s vocals—I would have loved to hear what the guy was saying more than a quarter of the time. But even so, as performers, they kept the energy so high that it hardly mattered.

Photos by Zach (the first seven) and Wesleying special guest photographer Anthony Fantano, who seems to have taken rather a liking to the Wesleyan music scene since his September lecture on campus.

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