Rifflandia 6 review: Souls of Mischief at Phillips Brewery

Lovers of old school hip hop were spoiled by the sixth installment of Rifflandia. The festival featured a host of hip hop demi-Gods: from Jurassic 5’s Chali 2na to Sunday evening main-stager Big Boi, the nineties were alive and well in Victoria this weekend. On Saturday night, Philips Brewery hosted hip hop pioneers Souls of Mischief, whose stellar 1993 major label debut, aptly entitled ’93 Til Infinity, has been a mainstay in the CD players of hip hop connoisseurs for the past twenty years: the album sounds just as fresh now as it did upon its release, prompting an anniversary tour. Souls of Mischief’s Saturday set was among the most anticipated of the festival, as evidenced by a line-up that stretched around the block by 9:00 PM.

One would be hard pressed to imagine a better venue than Philips Backyard. Vats of beer, precious beer, tower over a stage which, by day, doubles as Philips Brewery’s loading dock. These vats exhale the powerfully aromatic scent of yeasty-fermentation, delightfully tickling the senses of all who enter. The recently expanded backyard can hold up to 2,000 people and was clearly at capacity by the time Souls of Mischief took the stage on Saturday night.

Dam-Funk warmed up the crowd for Souls of Mischief with a stellar set of funk-laced grooves. Known as Los Angeles’ “Ambassador of Boogie Funk”, Dam’s sound often recalled early Prince and Aurra as he got everyone dancing to the electronic sounds of his Keytar. At the end of his set, Dam grabbed a back pack full of records, tossing a fistful of copies of his newest album into the crowd: luckily, nobody was injured.

Souls of Mischief’s DJ LEX kept the party going, spinning classic tracks from the likes of A Tribe Called Quest and KRS-One, effectively transporting us back to the Clinton-era. Undoubtedly, many were surprised and somewhat disappointed when Souls of Mischief finally took the stage. The group was down to only two members on Saturday night due to, surprise, surprise, problems at the border. Indeed, border problems plagued Rifflandia this year, cancelling anticipated shows such as the Orb. This trend betrays our current Government’s quest to keep visiting artists out of our country: a rant I shall refrain from indulging here.

Souls of Mischief Lite were remarkably undeterred by the absence of half of their crew, delivering a set covering the entirety of their lengthy catalogue with an unbridled energy. While their newest material marks a return to form, the crowd was most piqued during track’s such as “Let ‘Em Know” and “Batting Practice” from ’93 Til Infinity: the album was the centerpiece of the show and will undoubtedly provide the soundtrack to my post-Riff week.

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