Run The Jewels w/ The Gaslamp Killer, Gangsta Boo, Cuz, and Nick Hook
Showbox SoDo, Seattle, WA

The critical consensus seems to be that there is no better rap group on the radar right now that Run The Jewels. The duo – comprised of Killer Mike and El-P – showed up in Seattle midway through their “Run The World Tour,” in support of the December, 2016 release of their third LP, RTJ3. Based on the night’s showing, that consensus is right on the money.

Opening the night were DJ Nick Hook, rappers Cuz and Gangsta Boo, and DJ/producer The Gaslamp Killer. The sold out crowd was packed into Showbox SoDo early, giving the openers their due. The Gaslamp Killer for his part delivered a crazy beautiful set of psychedelic hip hop that had everyone’s attention. Screeching guitar tracks layered with monster growls, hip hop hits danced hand-in-hand with glitchy video game sound effects, and TGK let his locks loose, hands dancing over the decks. He left the stage with the message that, “Run The Jewels is the most important thing happening in hip hop and this is a monumental moment in history,” and the crowd wholeheartedly agreed.

Raring to go, when RTJ hit the stage to Queen’s “We Are The Champions,” it seemed the entire crowd had their hands in the air, forming the now-classic RTJ logo, chanting “R-T-J.” Giant inflatables of those same hands rested at either corner of the stage, a perfect frame, shrouded in smoke, for Killer Mike and El-P as they approached the front, opening with the heavy base of “Talk To Me.”

From start to finish, the RTJ tempo hit hard and held no prisoners. Throwing caution to the wind, the guys traded stanza after stanza of political and cultural criticism in a synchronized bromance unrivaled by any other. Mike and El-P playfully sparred, raised a glass, and shared opinions openly with the fans. A sense of camaraderie overtook the room, RTJ on the same page as the fans, everyone chanting along.

After the staccato beats of “Call Ticketron,” El-P yelled to the crowd to put their hands in the air, but that’s exactly where their hands already are. He humbly thanked them for being there, claiming “not sure what we did to deserve this,” and it was obviously genuine. Their provocative double entendres mashed brilliantly against thumping industrial beats and eclectic production, all wash in strobe light.

It’s so hot in the room that El-P joked he’d be known as the guy who leaves his jacket on in 100-degree heat, before promptly taking it off. Meanwhile, Killer Mike teased the photographers to not make him look fat. It’s a visceral, charismatic performance from the duo, where tracks off the new album mixed with classic masterpieces like “Early” and set closer “Run The Jewels.” Opener Gangsta Boo came out with an assist on “Love Again (Akinyele Back),” a horny tug-of-war that she knocked out of the park.

Killer Mike got the crowd going in a stutter wave action for “Everybody Stay Calm,” and they dedicated “A Report To The Shareholders” to all the fans who’ve been with them since day one. A short break, and they came back out for an encore, El-P saying “if anyone has some expensive shit in their hands, now would be the time to put it in your pockets,” before the bombastic “Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck).” RTJ aren’t out to reinvent the rap genre, they’re just two indie titans banning together to wage war against crooked politicians and brutalist cops, all with buddy-comedy humor. And it’s working.

RTJ may just be the heart of the resistance, motivators of insubordination that, in the current cultural climate, don’t actually have to try that hard to get the crowd on their side. We’re already there, with open arms and enthusiastic hearts, spitting their playful protest back at them from the mosh pit. Because this is where we pick up the pieces and figure out how to fight.

Run The Jewels Set List
Talk To Me
Legend Has It
Call Ticketron
Blockbuster Night Pt. 1
Oh My Darling Don’t Cry
Nobody Speak (DJ Shadow cover)
Hey Kids (Bumaye)
Stay Gold
Don’t Get Captured
Panther Like A Panther
Everybody Stay Calm
Love Again (Akinyele Back) w/ Gangsta Boo
Lie Cheat Steal
A Report To The Shareholders
Run the Jewels
Close Your Eyes (And Count To Fuck)

Review by Stephanie Dore
Photos by Sunny Martini

Run the Jewels and Gaslamp Killer