Review: The Coup @ Black Cat

by Winston "Stone" Ford


Boots Riley of The Coup
(photo by yours truly)

Although Oakland-based duo The Coup have been around since 1994, the group never got national attention until their ill fated album cover for Party Music in 2001. Hmm…wonder why? But for a group that has such tracks as “5 Million Ways to Kill a CEO,” you would think that the croud would look less like “the man.”

They weren’tthe grups that invaded the NYC show at the Southpaw two nights earlier, but they were well on their way there. Seriously, I thought I showed up to a Ted Leo and the Pharmacists show. Yes, it makes sense since Ted Leo and The Coup have performed together, but still I swear that only 2/3rds of the audience would know who Pam the Funkstress was if she walked up to the bar (she wasn’tthere anyway, but more on that later.)

The show started off with The Coup’s weed carriers opening acts, Iselyfe and T-Kash. Iselyfe was not bad, as far as opening acts go, and definately the better of the two. T-Kash was….aight, as they say, but his exuberance and multiple big-ups to his record company shows that he was just excited to get out of Oakland.

After a short interlude, and an intro by some dude that looked a little too much like Dice Raw, the main act took the stage. Backed by a live band, Boots Riley and company tore through the groups more recent catalog, playing the “hits,” like “4 Million Ways,” and “We Are The Ones.” However, the crowd (who barley filled half of the Black Cat) could care less. Of course, they erupted when they played “We Are the Ones,” and the abbreviated “My Favorite Mutiny,” most likley because Epitath made them free MP3 downloads. But for the most part Boots and Company couldn’thold the mini-grups intrest in the show, and the already small crowd at the Black Cat was cut in half by the end.

Silk-E’s rendition of “Babyletshaveababybeforebushdosomethingcrazy,” got the best response from the crowd, but I'm persuming that’s only because the song made fun of your President. The people also went crazy when the opening act called Bush a terrorist or soemthing like that, so I'm sure the local anti-Bush polka band would get rave reviews from this set.

For some reason, this show was just “off.” I blame the listless crowd, and that lack of energy brought down the whole show. (DC crowds are notorious for being bastards like this, and acts such as Ben Harper, Morningwood, and Van Hunt? straight up refuse to play here again.) Riley had nothing to feed off of, and he basically had his “lets get this show over with so I can get some groupies in the backroom” look on his face during the whole show.

The “live band” aspect that worked so well on the album just could not be replicated on stage. And what’s up with the missing Pam the Funkstress? There wasn’teven a cameo. What’s up with that?

All in all, it wasn’tbad. I was entertained. This is my first Coup show, so I can’tattest on how they group is over time. However, I think that they have to do something to improve their live shows. Bring Pam the Funkstress back and just get nasty and uber-political. Get the crowd into it. Insult them if you have to. Make me angry and pissed off at the world when I leave.

I'm sure that would happen if I went to a Dead Prez show.