Was an interesting venue, as
“who are you here to see” “Cannibal Ox”
led us “upstairs and to the left.”
I mean, that’s something you see when your buddy’s band has a show at the local open-mic spot.
We head upstairs and there’s some deep house pounding our souls. “Where’s the hip hop? Where’s Can O, or an opening act?” We look left at an empty dance floor and a stage. “That can’t be it. . . there’s about 30 cats. Total.” Sure enough, we see a guy that looks like Blake Griffin rapping – no wait, he’s singing – on stage, who was followed by another rap duo, all the while getting kind of drowned out by the deep house, which is coming from the room upstairs on the right, a poorly situated layout that was beyond amateur.
But perhaps this could have been portended by the (rundown, somewhat scuzzy) venue itself, or the fact that the day before CanOx was in Santa Cruz. . .where was the promotional team here? Where is the drawing power of arguably the 21st century’s most influential hip hop act? Is the L.A. ‘scene,’ even amongst heads, that dreary?
Regardless, after suffering through one more rap act and then two additional, individual rappers – one of who was kind of dope, frankly (“Double A.B”) – before Cannibal Ox hits the stage.
I turnaround as the venue has surely filled in by now, 11:48 PDT on a Thursday. . .yep, there are 50, maybe 60 heads in the audience. The sounds of Cold Vein permeate the speakers and Vast Aire takes over the stage and the venue. For a minute, I had chills. I was not able to see them perform during their ephemeral peak, so I’m glad I could check them off to my personal HH bucket list. Vast is killing it on the mic and – hey, why are these white rappers staying on stage with them? Is that Double A/B guy actually rapping Vordul’s lines? How is any of this okay with CanOx?
In studying Vordul, it’s clear he’s either under the influence – heavily – or sedated beyond belief. I’d heard rumors of both drug use and homelessness due to drug use, and where there’s smoke there’s fire. . .and this was definitely gasoline pouring out of his shoes. Which moved maybe a combined five feet over the course of the next half hour. Now we all know hip hop is questionable at times live; it’s tough to create that visceral, ‘live’ experience without instruments. So it’s generally dudes calling for response while marching back and forth across the stage. Not Vordul. . .he was literally catatonic. Most alarmingly, at two points he missed his mark to start a verse; one time he started a verse over; one other instance (Metamorphosis), he needed his verse finished for him by said rapper.
It was like watching a paternal boxing manager (Vast) trying to shield his younger, punch-drunk son from further embarrassment, but continuing to trot him out there because of the yearning for income, reputation, action, or the fact that there is nothing else.
None of this is shocking, but it’s worth noting. I’m including three snippets, some showing the good some showing the bad:
*’Coming on to the Stage” which was pretty dope https://youtu.be/Agyp6-KPN0s
*”Iron Rose” where you can see the depths of Vordul’s despair https://youtu.be/6n7BsxqwPO0
*general Can Oxxing https://youtu.be/l7SEBF9X9bw
I am extremely happy to have seen the show. I’m nonplussed by Vordul, though I’m pretty certain what I saw was the real deal. I can’t find any reviews anywhere on Vordul’s performances on this latest tour – and as my cohort said, he was able to at least record his lyrics for the album – but it’s pretty clear there are issues beyond belief with everything from the organization to the execution of the group.