The Grouch, Zion I, Eligh, Evidence, DJ Fresh and DJ Mishaps @ Urban 12.06

Posted December 9, 2011 in

On December 6, the 5th Annual How the Grouch Stole Christmas tour came through Salt Lake City, bringing Zion I, the Grouch, Eligh, Evidence and DJ Fresh to the Urban Lounge for a night of some of the best underground hip hop. All of the artists performing that night have had great new music out recently, making this show a jackpot for hip hop fans whether they knew it or not. I was most excited to hear Evidence, as his recent album, Cats & Dogs, has four or five genius tracks on it. Seeing his performance at the Complex a few months before, I knew he wasn’t going to disappoint. The stage production consisted of blow-up Christmas decorations like Santa, a Christmas tree and a snowman, placed on the stage around the turntables. It was simple, funny and really cool at the same time.

Evidence opened up with “It Wasn’t Me,” off Cats & Dogs. This album is great to hear live because it’s slow, bumping, electric and full of energy. Evidence’s rapping style isn’t fast, but it’s animated and it’s powerful, making his live show a completely different experience than listening to his albums. “I Don’t Need Love,” a song that Evidence wrote and produced about his recently deceased mother, was his most solid and passionate performance of the set. A few more songs that he nailed included “You,” a track produced by DJ Premier, “Let Yourself Go” and “The Liner Notes.” By the end of the set, and after a Dilated Peoples song or two, the crowd was much louder and more and more people were getting stoked on the performance. Evidence ended his set with one of the harder hitting songs off the Weatherman LP, titled “Mr. Slow Flow.”

After Evidence’s set came something I didn’t expect: Zion I, the Grouch and Eligh all walked onto the stage together for a triple co-headline performance. DJ Fresh was on the turntables for the set, which started with the Grouch’s, “Artsy,” a smooth moving tune about bigheaded artsy types and their various stereotypes. Eligh raps mostly in sixteenth notes, sometimes faster, and his performance was electric. In the middle of a verse, one is left wondering if he’s ever going to stop and take a breath, but he just keeps going. His first song was “What’s In A Name,” off Therapy at 3, and the crowd was immediately drawn in by the raw energy. The fastest I heard him rap was sometime towards the end of “Forrest Gump.” I wondered if he was actually saying anything at all or was just making vowels and syllable sounds. I went home after the show, found the track and the lyrics, and decided he may be the fastest rapper out there. Zion I played “Bird’s Eye View,” a track that got some of the loudest cheers of the night. After a few tracks, the emcees stood off to the side and DJ Fresh cut and spun on the turntables for about ten minutes, something that I hope to see happening more at shows in the future.

The best part of the night came at the finale, where the lights dimmed and Zion I, the Grouch and Eligh all stood in place as the synth lead to “Silly Puddy” came on over the speakers. The energy in the venue was intense, and for the last few minutes of the show I stopped thinking about writing a review and just enjoyed watching these veterans do what they do best.

After the music was over, the artists made their way over to the merchandise booths to meet fans and sign autographs. This year’s How the Grouch Stole Christmas was one of the purest, most raw showcases of hip hop that I’ve heard all year.
Evidence Eligh The Grouch. Photo: Arian Stevens Zion I