Not many people made it over to Sauget, Illinois, for last night’s show, but what the crowd lacked in numbers they made up for with enthusiasm. While South St. Louis native Strata-G performed the opening set, five or six fans started up a mini moshpit in front of the stage, and proceeded to shove and ram each other across the floor. Eventually, they all tired out and the show proceeded without interruption or incident.
After an intermission following Strata-G’s set, it took a while for the crowd to reassemble (thanks to the smoking ban in Illinios) as Chicago rapper Verbal Kent spit a pretty entertaining set riddled with punchlines. As Kent went at it with no hype man or DJ, his ‘lighter’ style of rap was somewhat in contrast to Strata-G’s hardcore style, but it was solid nonetheless. His delivery had more than a passing resemblance that of a young Eminem. (That’s meant as a compliment.)
The next set belonged to Brooklyn veteran Sean Price (a.k.a. Ruck, P. Body) and protégé Rustee Juxx. If you‘re not familiar with Sean Price, he’s been on the underground scene since the mid '90s as an affiliate of the Boot Camp Clik and one half of the group Heltah Skeltah.
Price came with that grimey style of rap that New York was known for a while back – raspy-voiced lyricism over sample-heavy beats. The music was energetic and their material was clever, but I couldn’t help but notice that Price appeared to be rooted to his spot on the stage. His mic never left its stand, as Rustee Juxx worked the stage and stole most of the attention. At the end of the show, Price actually went through the entire crowd, getting everybody’s name (all thirty of us) before thanking the audience for coming out.
Although headliner Ill Bill is loosely associated with the horrorcore scene (his brother Necro is directly associated with it), the former Non Phixion standout had more serious topics to rap about than one might expect. While he does get into controversial territory on tracks like “Anatomy of a School Shooting” (told from the perspective of the Columbine shooters), Bill showed another side of his music while performing “Society is Brainwashed” (produced by DJ Premiere). Bill’s promoting his new album The Hour of Reprisal, which is earning considerably better reviews that his last effort, 2004’s What’s Wrong with Bill?