Last Night: The Cool Kids, Pacific Division
June 3, 2008
By Jennifer Maerz
Better Than: Leg Warmers, Spandex, and all the other bad crap that fell outta the ‘80s time capsule.
Danny was a “rock guy” who happened to be at the Independent for a friend’s birthday. But waiting in line for a drink after Pacific Division’s opening set, he said the show made him want to play the club’s stage. Nevermind that he’s a lone guitarist these days. Wanting to be a hip-hop star while you’re getting your drink on is a step the right direction. (Much better than the girl who blacked out against her boyfriend the minute after he bought them both shots). After all, none of the acts had instruments with them when they performed. It was all microphones and laptops for Pac Div (shortened on the L.A. act’s shirts to better ape Run-D.M.C.’s logo). Pac Div didn’t need any instrumental interlopers. The three emcees had a goofy, crowd pleasing style.
They gave comic expressions and threw their hands toward the three pretty young ladies at the edge of the stage as their DJ chomped on his gum and served up bits of hip-hop nostalgia from days gone by. Between performing their infectious party tracks (“Runnin’ For Mayor,” later, "FAT Boys '08), Pac Div got the audience swiftly singing along to Bell Biv DeVoe and Biz Markie. They even did the Running Man. Having never seen these guys before, Pac Div inspired me to check out these dudes again next time they tour up the 101.
Later into the night, at the edge of the stage, a tall baseball-capped dude randomly turned to me and started saying that this show was making him want to embark on a hip-hop career. He was in town from Seattle to see the Cool Kids. Back at home he had friends with the right equipment to make tracks, he said. He had ideas, he just needed to make time to make them happen. We were watching the Cool Kids, two Chicago emcees and a DJ who in some ways have made it happen. They’re a blogger sensation, filling the Independent a week before their first EP, The Bake Sale, is even out.
The Cool Kids also pulled in the crowd-pleasers too, dipping into everyone from Snoop Dogg to E-40 to Ice Cube, getting a rise from the kids every time they switched from their raps about “Black Mags” and their ode to their favorite era, “88” into hits that came out when this act was in diapers. But compared to Pacific Division, the Cool Kids were, well, uninspired. Sure they jumped around the stage and got the crowd waving – they even called two dudes and two ladies on stage for a sorta half-assed dance off -- but every time they got on a roll, Cool Kid Chuck Inglish would stall the momentum, cutting off the DJ or sticking with the stage banter for way too long.
Where Pac Div sounded sharp, funny, and comfortable with the show, the Cool Kids felt more like a warm-up act still getting its setlist in gear. I guess I’d give them another shot (they’re coming back for Outside Lands). But for now smart money’s on Pacific Division being the act to inspire the bloggers and hype builders in the months to come. It's hard to argue with an act that's already running for mayor.