There is something anti-climactic to a show with no instruments. Like going to a Broadway performance only to find that all the actors have called in sick and they are playing the DVD version on a fifty inch TV instead. Performances that employ live instrumentation continue to be a rare breed in the world of hip-hop, but Seattle's Theoretics are moving past the limitations of two turntables and a microphone. The dueling rhymes of two emcees are lifted and propelled by bass, electric guitar, keys, saxophone (!) and (most importantly) a live drummer. Strains of jazz, funk and rock music are interwoven to create a bombastic foundation while a lyrical ruckus is built on top. The themes are typically inspirational in a heavy-handed way, with references to metaphorical wings, breaking chains and an overall mantra of being yourself. Only with wings. One exception is their spin on the Jekyll and Hyde story, a playfully ridiculous romp that isolates the voice of each emcee and utilizes the band to create a distinct vibe for each of the characters. When Hyde finally usurps Jekyll's verse, the transformation is complete. Whether you love the uplifting vibe or find it trite, the energy of a live hip-hop group is undeniable and more rare than an ostrich egg omelet.
Tonight at the Crocodile. Doors open at 8pm and tickets are $8 in advance.