Friday, June 8, 2012

CONCERT REVIEW: Juiceboxxx w/ Fat Tony & Rio Turbo (Quarters Rock 'n' Roll Palace, Milwaukee)

Fresh off a successful Indiegogo fundraiser for his eclectic label, Thunderzone, and anticipating the release of his upcoming LP, I Don't Wanna Go Into The Darkness, Juiceboxxx has been productive of late, and shows no signs of slowing down. But since he moved to L.A. a while back, Milwaukee hasn't seen much of him, which turned tonight's show into a homecoming of sorts before he hits the road, once again, for a tour of the Midwest and East Coast. It felt good to have him back, especially on such a well balanced bill.   

Starting things off was Milwaukee's own Rio Turbo, whose sleazy, sexed up party raps have only gotten more fun as he continues to collaborate with talented local beat-smiths. There's a welcome crossover funk feel to his newer material that layers Prince-style flourishes over the rough-cut four-on-the-floor that he's long relied on. It would be nice if he shook up his image a bit more often (the smeared lipstick is getting a little stale), but maybe he just realizes that the lithe Turbette back up dancers are getting the lion's share of the stares.

Houston rapper Fat Tony was up next, but first turned over the mic to his tour-mate 10ille (pronounced "Tennille"), a talented MC-chanteuse, for two songs. After that short interlude, he reemerged and ripped into an impressive set, swapping spitfire rhymes with Tom Cruz, with whom he's just dropped the new Double Dragon LP. Tony's got a knack for big choruses, as on a statement of purpose track about drinking Guinness and wearing denim, but he really shines on the verses, where his flow is almost inhumanly fast.

Then it was time for Juiceboxxx's long awaited performance, and though expectations certainly ran high, they were met handily. Recently, he's been experimenting with including live musicians in his set, and I can think of no one better to back him up than the current lineup of drummer Tony Dixon and guitarist Willy Dintenfass. The addition of live instrumentation perfectly suits the new material and adds a lot of punch to the old stuff, recalling the Beastie Boys Check Your Head, but the influence that looms larger than any other is The Boss, Bruce Springsteen. There's a serious Born to Run vibe running through the new songs (one even features a Clarence Clemons-esque sax sample!), but it's all incorporated without sacrificing any of the high-energy danceability. I've seen Juiceboxxx countless times, but he never ceases to surprise me, and the new set is no exception. Check it out if you get the chance.

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