Nothing is more annoying than seeing one of your favorite acts perform when they're not who the majority of the room came to see. It drives me up the wall when I'm trying to focus on the act on stage and can't because of the conversations and general lack of attention going on around you. That's pretty much what I had to contend with when Shabazz Palaces blew into town recently. As Ishmael Butler (aka Palaceer Lazaro) and Tendai Maraire took the stage at popular New Orleans venue Tipitinia's, it was clear there were only a handful of us there specifically to peep the guys do their thing as they breezed through songs from last year's epic Black Up, in addition to cuts from their past releases.
After the bounce
Not that the duo let the crowd's relatively low energy slow their roll. In fact, it almost seemed that Tendai and Butler all but shut us out, focusing solely on the task at hand, delivering the songs that have helped them amass a cult-like following. The Seattle-based duo cut a striking portrait on stage, with both men standing side-by-side, Butler behind a laptop and several samplers, while Tendai juggled percussion, thumb piano, and backing vocal duties. They were the physical definition of cool, both decked out in plaid shirts and sunglasses that added an air of detachment as they delved into some of my faves from Black Up like "An echo from the hosts that profess infinitum" and "Swerve... The reeping of all that is worthwhile (Noir not withstanding)." Save for a few choreographed moves, both men seemed to get lost in the music they were creating with little interaction with the crowd. There were none of the lengthy explanations of songs or lighthearted banter that usually takes place during a live show. It was hard to gauge if they barreled through their catalog without stopping in response to the crowd's initial energy or if it was par for the course at a Shabazz Palaces show.
Whatever the reason was, their method of enchantment seemed to work its magic on the crowd as their performance went on. Those distracted members who initially appeared more concerned with their side conversations slowly allowed their chatter to die out as the pulsating bass forced them to give their attention to the stage. By the time their set ended, it was clear they won the crowd's undivided attention. If you weren't one of the lucky ones who got a chance to check out their live show during their recent tour, then peep the video below to get a taste of what you've been missing, courtesy of the good folks at Pitchfork. Combining footage from their recent stop in NYC with interviews, the clip peels back the air of mystery that normally surrounds SP, allowing fans a bit of insight into what makes the duo tick.