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N.A.S.A. w/ Fatlip, Pase Rock and Special Guests
Wednesday, August 12th @ The El Rey

N.A.S.A.

1. First, the El Rey is an amazing place to see a show. This is far from the beer-soaked dives I’m used to seeing shows in. Both the floor and the walls are covered in red carpeting, three huge chandeliers hang from the ceiling, and additional wall-mounted chandeliers line the sides. On top of that, it’s an intimate venue with not a bad spot in the house. No pillars or balconies to block the view of the stage. As I get older, I have an appreciation for venues like this. Especially when they have such a nice spot and still are willing to book acts that might normally seem out of place in such a venue.

2. Fatlip (yes, Fatflip of the Pharcyde) opened the show with a half-hour DJ set. Pharcyde is one of my favorite hip-hop acts of the nineties, but I had never caught them (or Fatlip) live before. I think Fatlip is a solid MC, with some of his rhymes from the Pharcyde being among the most memorable. But, as much as I love him, he’s just not that great of a DJ. His set was steeped heavily in early nineties R&B, which isn’t a bad thing, I guess. But I have to admit that when he busted out Boyz II Men’s “Motown Philly” part of me was like, “Really?”

3. The evening can be summed up in two words: technical difficulties. Fatlip was, albeit admittedly and jokingly, fucking up his mixes. The other DJ opener, Pase Rock, couldn’t get his laptop to work and instead had to rely on whatever music Fatlip had in his iTunes library. And even N.A.S.A. themselves were suffering from some of their video feeds not working properly. The crowd was patient with it, but you could feel the frustration of the performers on stage. No one said, “This is a clusterfuck,” but I definitely got a sense that at any minute those very words would be shouted from the stage.

4. I was excited to see N.A.S.A. I dug their debut album (“The Spirit of Apollo”) and was excited to see how the tracks from that album would be translated into a live show. Unfortunately, even after seeing the show last night, I still have no idea how most those songs would translate into a live show. For a huge bulk of their 75-minute set, at least a good 80% of it, Squeak E. Clean and DJ Zegon chose to basically spin records. From the Bee Gees’ “Stayin’ Alive” to Salt-n-Pepa’s “Push It,” N.A.S.A. spent most of the evening playing other people’s songs. And that’s fine, I guess, but it’s definitely not what I expected. There are so many tracks on “The Spirit of Apollo” that I consider to be works of art, and it would have been nice to hear those songs. They did play a handful of them, I guess, including “Whachadoin?” and “Money,” but hearing those songs was a little expected.

5. The highlight was their performance of “Way Down.” Special guests Money Mark and Barbie Hatch joined the duo on stage for what proved to be the best song of the night. Another memorable moment came when Fatlip joined them for some impromptu verses of both the Pharcyde’s “Passin’ Me By” and the Chemical Brothers’ “The Salmon Dance.” (To be fair, they did also briefly dip into their track “Hip-Hop.”) Those moments were fun but, again, I came to hear N.A.S.A. Maybe next time.

Here’s a video for “Way Down,”

-Shady

PS: I wasn’t able to shoot photos at the show, but click here if you’re interested in seeing images of the performance.

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Old Poop!