May 6, 2014

North Side Weakly

OK, so as the title suggests, I didn’t make it that far north this week. To be fair, Pilsen is a little north of Hyde Park, so cut me some slack and just roll with it. Last Thursday I went to the hardwood neon-signed paradise that is the Lacuna Artist Loft Studios to check out the hip-hop heavyweights Run the Jewels’s show for zero dinero, courtesy of Goose Island and The FADER’s Analog Migration series.

Lacuna Loft is a venue tucked between warehouses off West Cermak Road and normally reserved for weddings. However, last Thursday night it was transformed into something straight out of a club scene you’d imagine in a movie made for yuppie 20-somethings in Silicon Valley, where everyone is sporting manicured scruff, well-tousled hair, or side-swept bangs. Next to the building is a cargo shipping container with a rusted three-wheel Toyota resting atop, which makes for a great subject for small talk while you wait in line to check in and get carded twice. Upon entering we were greeted by rows of servers with neon trays crowded with tallboys of 312 Urban Pale Ale, a citrusy APA that I became very familiar with throughout the night, because it was free and pairs surprisingly well with the artisan pretzel sticks and spicy mayo that we were served, both in generous quantities. The space was surreal, complete with AstroTurf lounge chairs, neon liquor signs, old arcade games, a pop-up record store, and The Bosco, which claims to be a “state of the art photo booth and video confessional” but is really just a glorified box where you can take copious amounts of iPad selfies.

It was almost too much of a good thing—free brews, food, music, and a balding old man grooving his heart out to DJ Timbuck2, who was lazily putting ’90s hip-hop anthems to the needle. We were initially afraid it was a “Hotel California” kind of situation where the only cruel catch was that we would be stuck in this place forever, forced to live out our days sipping pale ales, eating thick pretzels and tiny cheese quesadillas, all while documenting our slow descent into insanity via selfie. However, no one seemed to share these fears, mingling about happily and firing off what I imagine were emoji drunk tweets about free beer.

As the intimate loft party reached capacity, Tijuana Panthers took the stage, a three-piece garage rock band from the West Coast band that sounds exactly like what you’d expect given the ubiquity of indie rock these days. The set was thoroughly average, but I guess they were putting out good vibes and were decent enough to casually sway to while double fisting. Special shoutout to the guy in paint-stained overalls who made me look like a lightweight, showing his love for the free beer hustle by managing to fit six beers in his many pockets.

Finally, at around 11 p.m., the headliners and veteran MCs Killer Mike and El-P, collectively known as the hip-hop duo Run the Jewels, began their set, which consisted of a full run-through of their critically acclaimed, savage, and witty self-titled 2013 album. They opened with “Run the Jewels” (they might love eponymous stuff more than Marc Jacobs), a song that includes the hilariously gangster lyric, “I put the pistol on that poodle/ and I shot that bitch.” Killer Mike dwarfed the small stage due to his massive size, an issue he addresses poetically in his track “Banana Clippers” by claiming, “I move with the elegance of an African elephant.” The heavy, muddy bass and refined yet grimy electronic beats, paired with politically conscious lyrics that toe the line between tongue-in-cheek satire and stories of thugging out in the ghetto, made for an incredibly high-energy show where almost everyone was bouncing rhythmically, hands in the air.

Prior to the midnight encore, Run the Jewels gave thanks to Goose Island for helping put together the event. It is worth noting that this is not the first time the two groups have collaborated to bring together rap and beer fans. Last year the parties cooperated to brew a wheat ale called Goose Island Run the Jewels (another nod to the eponyms), which was supposed to “invoke one of the duo’s favorite aromas (wink-wink)” and “help alleviate cotton-mouth,” according to the commercial description of the lovely concoction.

The energetic duo closed out the night with “Twin Hype Back,” a track that has inspired my new approach to pick-up lines and frugal first dates with the lyrics, “We can go over to Long John Silver’s, get a fish platter./ You can take me home and massage me with butter all on my neck./ I love you.”