Boots Riley of The Coup
The Memorial Union Terrace came alive last night for one of the first times this season, loosely filled with people trying to pretend the night was warmer than it really was.
Part of the Hip-Hop as a Movement Week, the Thursday night "Hip-Hop: Alive and Well" concert proved its point through long-established headliner The Coup, along with a list of openers that included New York City's all-woman group Anomolies.
The Terrace stage is a difficult venue to play if you do not have a sound that would normally over-power other venues. Fellow openers Culture Shock Camp and Big Quarters, along with Madison's own El Guante -- who stepped on between acts to MC and do his own poetry -- suffered from the lack of good acoustics and mostly provided back-round music for the getting of Rathskeller pitchers and the gathering of friends. More than anything, the small crowd that gathered early in front of the stage provided good people-watching for the majority of those spread across the various levels of the lake-front.
The Anomolies crew was the first to break through from the background. The collective of individual MCs, DJs and producers, who are attempting to combat the stereotypes of women hip-hop artists, work well together on stage and provided a powerful enough sound to get people off their feet.
It was well into the night before The Coup came on, but the Bay Area group made it hard not to dance. Focusing on material from last year's Epitaph release Pick a Bigger Weapon, they stayed true to their old-school funk-and-soul influenced sound while updating it with contemporary social commentary and political diatribe. The driving bass line on "We Are the Ones" made people get out of their primary-colored chairs while singing along to front man Boots Riley's infectious lyrics.
"You brought us to this country not to free but to body-bag them,' said "Captain Riley's Little Problem," while the guitar-driven beat led the crowd in a smooth, head-nodding groove. The set slowed down with the blues-y "Baby Let's Have a Baby" featuring Silk E. The powerful voice of Silk E gave heart to the chorus, "Baby, let's have a baby, before Bush do something crazy," and even if the college-age crowd couldn-t really get behind the message, they certainly slow-danced their way through the tune -- if only to stay warm.