Run the Jewels Deliver an Early Concert of the Year Contender at Crystal Ballroom

Killer Mike and El-P at the Crystal Ballroom. Image: Henry Cromett.
Killer Mike and El-P at the Crystal Ballroom. Image: Henry Cromett.

At the Crystal Ballroom on Feb. 6, Run The Jewels’ Killer Mike and El-P delivered an early contender for concert of the year, marching through an indefatigable 70-minute set in delirious lockstep with a riveted Crystal Ballroom crowd.

Yeah. It was like that. Sold out. Hands in the air. Bass in your face. Dry-ice-meets-marijuana. Many mesmerized. Killer Mike’s pal Bernie Sanders sat in on background vocals, and a bird landed on his shoulder during a high note. (OK, maybe that was just the contact high.)

There was no one song, no one moment, no one star. Reflecting the pair’s power-to-the-people politics, their approach was balanced: El-P’s dextrous, sinewy beats under a flurry of turntable scratching from DJ Trackstar; Killer Mike’s velvety, virtuosic, Hennessey-laced flow; the constant call-and-response between rappers and crowd.

A cloth with a political message on it was thrown to Mike, who caught it, then read from it: “Fight Racism. Fight for Equality.” A minute later, opener Gangsta Boo, formerly of Three 6 Mafia, joined on “Love Again (Akinyele Back),” one of the few songs they played from earlier albums, which ended with: “Pussy is power!”

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