Open Mike Eagle & Special Guests
Art rap auteur Open Mike Eagle has a new show that's a mix of comedy, rap and improv. The inaugural performance was Saturday night at The Mint.
At the scheduled start time, several tables near the front of the stage at the quaint, dimly lit venue were empty, while adjacent booths were bathed in red glow from the venue's antiquated chandeliers. But an hour later the seats were filled, and more chairs were brought out. Some people had to stand.
Co-host Judy Holiday took the stage, explaining the show's conception and introducing DJ/producer Alwayz Prolific, who delivered a set filled with diverse sounds, that managed to stay cohesive. His foundation was firmly in hip-hop, but he also incorporated a string of banging rap beats, temporarily turning The Mint into Low End Theory.
After a solid performance from rapper Sum1, it was time for pallid and hirsute comedian DC Pierson (below), who regaled the audience with the long, winding, funny, and strange story of an adolescent tryst between he and a female friend turned quasi-lover. Pierson called the experience his Wonder Years.
There were references to Weezer's first album, Atlas Shrugged, Napster, and all sorts of self-deprecation; it was sincere, side-splitting, and featured an innovative approach to story-telling.
Then, the man behind the madness appeared...
Before assuming the role of host, Open Mike Eagle performed "The Processional (Funeral March)" (from his album Rappers Will Die of Natural Causes) and "Qualifiers" (from his Hellfyre Club label compilation Dorner vs. Tookie). Delivered to a house full of friends and devotees, all seemed well acquainted with Mike's honest and oft-uproarious bars.
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Inviting producer/DJ/singer/multi-instrumentalist Toy Light to the stage, Mike proceeded to perform the title track from his forthcoming album, Dark Comedy. As Toy Light played soft, melodic guitar riffs over an assemblage of electronic clips and hiss, Mike rapped about comedians like Steven Wright, breaking each verse to tell stories of life on the road. (The stories were good. We hope they end up on the album!)
Then came the talk show portion. The first guest was L.A. Weekly scribe Jeff Weiss. The two discussed his coverage of rapper Lil Boosie's murder trial, the book he co-authored, and the gustatory and comedic benefits of being Jewish.
Following Weiss was comedian Baron Vaughn, who somehow bridged the gap between being broke and time travel with his unique, jokes. Comparing bad credit to VD? Done.
Before his set, Detroit rapper Quelle Chris gave an irreverent interview, seemingly half-asleep as he spoke to Mike from the couch. But he pulled it together when he got up to perform, despite the fact that he was on a crutch after having sprained an ankle. With luminary Detroit DJ/producer DJ House Shoes on the turntables, Chris was in the zone.
Of the tracks he performed from his first-rate 2013 album Ghost at the Finish Line, the sex paean "Super Fuck" was the track most suited for the show. We're willing to bet that no other rapper jokes about writing a Yelp review after giving fellatio.
Just before Chris' performance, local L.A. rappers Alpha MC, Verbs, and Intuition were told to write rhymes about their favorite sandwich. Once Chris finished his set, each M.C. returned to rap their freshly written bars over the instrumental for M.O.P.'s "Ante Up." We probably wouldn't eat any of the sandwiches they rapped about, but this improv bit made for some entertaining live comedy.
The show came to a close with an inspired freestyle cypher. While each rapper (and even comic DC Pierson) took the mic, Holiday pulled items from a large, cartoonish suitcase that they had to incorporate into their rhymes. There was Twister (the game), a Furby, and a flip phone. With rappers like resident Hellfyre Club founder and freestyle veteran Nocando on the mic, you were unlikely you'll find this level of off-the-top skill and comedy all under one roof elsewhere.
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Mike's said that more shows might be in the cards, depending on how the proceedings went Saturday. Apart from the late start and occasionally bumpy structure, The Mike Eagle Show went as well as could be expected. We look forward to more.
[Editor's note: Mike responds that the opening DJ set was part of the show, and thus it didn't start late.]