Ho99o9 With Kate Mo$$, The Bots, Injury Reserve At The Echoplex, Friday May 19th 2017
You are probably gonna hear me talk about this Ho99o9 show for a long time, the Los Angeles via Newark band set the bar very high on Friday night at the Echoplex, I can say I have rarely seen such mayhem, chaos and fury during one night and it all started with the first act: as soon as they started, the crowd got very rowdy and wild. I wonder how I managed to stay in the front all night long, but I have rarely seen that many bodies flying over my head.
Kate Mo$$ was a disturbing and violent act if I have ever seen one! The couple was theatrically fighting on a fake-blood-covered stage, mimicking harsh beating, murder and even masturbation, it looked so real that the scenes could have come straight from an horror movie, with the girl spitting rivers of blood from her mouth. While frontman Gnarly was rapping his verses and raping her, she soon got covered in blood, Carrie-style, but seemed to appreciate every moment of it, from the beating to the cord strangulation, falling flat on stage but asking for more twerking… Their acrobatic boogie dance over dynamic fast beats was fascinating and highly disturbing at the same time, blending sex and violence, as some punk band was singing about – the frontman was wearing a Dead Kennedys shirt. She was hurling and screaming like an exorcized demon, he was making monster-like vocals while the drums were accelerating to elevate the level of horror and fear. He even run from the back of the stage a few times, to jump in the audience feet first, and I wonder how he managed not to hurt a few people in the process. Jumping may be a classic move, but even though, this looked terribly violent. There was an adrenaline rush running in everyone’s body all set long, even though we all knew it was only done for shock value. It was beyond music, a grindcore-crimewave horror art-show, desecrating bible pages with blood-dripping body parts.
How can you follow such an act? The Bots did, with an intense short set of furious punk garage rock, all ampep-up and blending with electronic. Singer/guitarist Mikaiah Lei trashed the stage with a bombastic guitar, while brother Anaiah was beating his drums like a sick man. There were a few pauses in their attack-mode tempest, with lullabies-like melodies and honestly I was wondering what this high-in-adrenaline aggressive audience was thinking at this precise moment,… but it was very brief and soon the electrifying energy was back on board, liberating but blood-free this time.
And since Ho99o9 likes to build up the anticipation, there was a third act before the main attraction, Arizona rappers Injury Reserve arrived on stage shortly after, and did they prepared the scene! They put the audience on fire with their rap verses over minimal beats and electronic noises. With them, it was all about rap, nothing else and I am gonna show my age if I continue to talk about them… What’s so great about them? May be they are the new Kanye West, at least they know how to use the auto-tune and their songs seemed to get the crowd very excited. It’s simple, the audience became a single wave and I could barely keep my spot. Understanding what they were saying could help to enter the game, all these kids seemed to have the time of their lives, in an aggressive way nevertheless, as songs like ‘Oh Shit’ and ‘Eeny Meeny Miny Moe’ got the most from the crowd.
It was past 12:40 am when Hoo9o9 took the stage after a long wait filled with a calling-buzzing noise, and at their first punk tantrum it became really violent, wild, insane… The audience was really into the show, as a matter of fact, I had never seen a crowd that enthusiastic and out of control, which brought the entire experience to another dimension of punk/rap history. Rappers Eaddy and theOGM are touring their ‘United States of Horror’ album and they killed, murdered, slaughtered the place with an energy only seen during the good old days of punk hardcore shows. If they arrived in black robes, Eaddy was wearing military fatigue, soon revealing a ‘Racista Mierda’ crossed-swastika shirt, while theOGM had a more glam rock look, with giant branching-out dreadlocks and a futuristic silver jumpsuit, that made him a cross between Grace Jones and a George Clinton robot. He interrupted the show at one point to reprehend a guy who got violent with a girl, and insulted him ‘Piece of shit!’ But they immediately resumed with a more violent and aggressive track mixing noise, restless punk assault, rap outbursts, and speed-light firing drums by Brandon Pertzborn, who also drummed for Black Flag’s 2014 tour. I should also said I didn’t see any guitar the entire night.
None of my pictures can simply give justice to the fury, the volatility they unleashed (in the dark), none of the short videos I took can show this constant stage diving of people coming from all over the place, and, of course, none of the recordings can reveal the menacing destructive tone of their live music, which didn’t stop for a minute to scare the shit out of me. TheOGM, who sounded so calm when he was talking between the frantic tracks, joked he almost had a Lenny Kravitz moment when he got some problems with his shiny suit, and took the time to celebrate his birthday, between two songs, with a tray of beer-filled cups, soon thrown away over the crowd, as they started an even more enraged song. As a matter of fact, a lot of ‘shit’ was thrown away on us all night long, and I walked home with a beer-smell in my hair.
Both men navigated between doom rap and punk outbursts with the same ease than Bad Brains have always been combining hardcore and reggae, just listen to the powerful ‘Street Power’, which precisely owns something to Bad Brains,… but Ho99o9 are very well aware of that, as they covered the almighty punk band’s ‘PMA’. I could not see it behind my back, but the Echoplex filled up with a giant mosh pit, an apocalyptic rave party for the fearless fans of this new breed of mutant music.
Ho99o9’s grinding rap, death-bell-tolls noise, bestial growls and doom raging social commentary produced something entirely cathartic on Friday night, and if they hadn’t boosted their rap with old-school hardcore punk, they could be another hip hop band with a bad attitude, appealing to the Odd Future crowd. Their show had certainly the same creepy theatrical quality, the same decadence in violence. However, this was another thing, another level of war-like brutality, brought up by two self-proclaimed crossbreed mutants, and welcome by Los Angelinos like heroes. And if art mirrors our times, there is not enough rage to express the gruesomeness of the days in the United States of horror.