Sunday, January 21, 2007

There are few bands these days that will get me out in sub-zero (I’m writing from Denver) temps to go a club the has exorbitant drink prices and a normal caliber of clientele that makes Pairs Hilton seem like a extraordinarily smart blonde. Couple that with the fact that this particular club, “The Shelter,” is the same club where Denver Broncos player Darrent Williams was partying at when he allegedly got into an altercation that got him murdered, and it should be pretty clear how strong my love for the band I’m about to review is.

The band happens to be Digital Underground, the hip-hop crew that was formed in Oakland, California and is best known for their song “The Humpty Dance” as well as being the launching pad for the late Tupac Shakur. Digital Underground is easily one of the most talented and underrated groups in hip-hop and it’s sad to see them playing in such a cesspool of a club, as opposed to the packed arenas they deserve. Still, I’m willing to brave it for a band that sits among Guns and Roses, The Black Crowes and The Rolling Stones as one of my all-time favorite bands.

Digital Underground also happens to be one of the few bands I enjoy a personal relationship with. During my somewhat brief career as a concert promoter, that actually came about as a result of having to drive to Aspen to see the band years ago, I brought the band to Denver for their first show in the area where they sold out the joint (A “Deadhead” bar called Quixote’s,) quickly. I subsequently brought the bands leader Shock-G, whose alter ego is the famous Humpty Hump for his first solo tour in support of his great album Fear of a Mixed Planet As a side-note, for all you aspiring promoters, let me tell you the job isn’t as glamorous as it sounds and the real money in the business is made by plying people with liquor and not from selling tickets.

That said, it’s Shock-G, and his partner in crime Money B, that make Digital Underground such a great band. They have a passion for their craft that is rare, especially in the “Bitches and Hoes” world that is hip-hop and rap. While the bands mainstream success was brief the bands music is some of the best out there. If you even remotely like rap, or Parliament style funk for that matter, you owe it to yourself to seek out and absorb Digital Underground albums like Sex Packets, Sons of The P and the mind-blowing masterpiece that is The Body-Hat Syndrome. But I digress, and as they say in show business “on with the show.”

After a few backstage libations the band hit the unusually small stage (about the size of a walk-in closet) at Midnight at proceeded to deliver a hefty dose of the distinctive “D-Flow” funk that they are famous for. Unlike many groups, Digital Underground regularly switches up it’s set lists and this particular show saw the band running through classic verses from “Rhyming on the Funk,” “Kiss You Back” and the show stopping “Freaks of the Industry” among others gems. Shock-G also took to the piano and laid down some killer riffs before donning his trademark Humpty Nose to send the crowd into frenzy with the side-splitting lyrical boasting of the aforementioned “Humpty Dance.” By the end of the show the crowd was in a state of elation and DU left the stage proving they are still the best, and most consistent, hip-hop crew around.

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