J's Indie/Rock Mayhem

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Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Jurassic 5 - Wait Chapel, Wake Forest University - 4th October 2005

When you haven't released a new album in nearly 3 years (3 years as of this Saturday, actually), yet there was a very high-profile credit card commercial advertising a contest where the grand prize was working as a gopher on your next album, you begin to wonder what's going on behind the scenes. Such it has been with Jurassic 5 whose output (and news of said output) has been quite limited and confusing as typified by the really mystifying release of the "Hey"/"If You Only Knew" single back in January of '04, nearly one and a quarter years after the album was released. Something's funny out west, y'all.

But. Then I opened my Go Triad last week and saw that Jurassic 5 was playing at Wake Forest. So a friend, his mother and myself trooped over to Winston-Salem to get the lowdown on the J5.

Playing to a half-full house, Jurassic 5 plowed through the classics in typical grand style. But more about that in a moment.

First the good news: their new album is, according to the band, finished. Now the slightly disappointing news: although claiming they were going to perform new songs, the grand total of identifiable new material from last night's show hovers at 2, maybe 3 songs. The sound mix was kind of bass/drum heavy, leaving the hooks and melodies somewhat obscured beneath the vocals and beats. So I can't really report to you about how the new material sounded. Sorry.

The rest of the show was fantastic. Their live show has become a finely honed machine that rolls along steadily popping song after song off, often in mixes with one another. My one complaint being that they have the tendency, as do a lot of groups in hip-hop, to mix these songs together and clip verses off the end. "Concrete Schoolyard" was left without its closing, and my personal favorite, simile: "It's like reading Arabic, coming from right to left, it's hot to death, so take a breath, and pace yourself." Waiting to rap along with that line, I was left hanging.

Much to my pleasure they dug deep into their catalogue pulling plenty of material from the Jurassic 5 EP and Quality Control (including the excellent title track from the latter), while still plowing through most of the songs from 2002's excellent Power in Numbers, even capping the show with that album's hottest song, the extremely sharp "Day at the Races."

Jurassic 5 was actually a true five-piece for once since, apparently, DJ Cut Chemist was unable to make the trip. When both DJ Nu-Mark and Cut Chemist are on the stage it's an unbelievable show, but Nu-Mark held his own with some amazing table work that is just more proof of what a powerful set of djs Jurassic 5 has working with them.

My final question is where is Chalie 2na's long mentioned/never-released solo album? If I were to pick a member of J5 (who is not a dj) as a candidate for solo work, Chalie would've been it and the news last year that he was working on a solo album was fantastic. But it has never materialized. Odds are it's on the backburner until after the new Jurassic 5 album, but it's still somewhat disappointing.

Jurassic 5 are consistantly (I can say that now that I've seen them twice) one of the most entertaining and envigorating live acts I've had the pleasure of witnessing in my time and when they come out on tour for this new album, definitely see them. With J5 member Soup now living up in Raleigh, hopefully we'll see them more often in North Carolina.

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