Pfefferberg, Berlin - Apr 25, 2000
Hip Hop group The Pharcyde, for the uninitiated (like me!), came out of California in the early 1990s, and despite the occasional glowing critical review, by and large have contented themselves with preaching to the converted in the United States.
Your reviewer's expectations were mixed. The closest yours truly would usually get to this medium are maybe the Massive Attacks and Portisheads of this world - high quality, but about as rebellious as a Caf?Latte in Ranelagh, really. But if there's a place to expand your horizons, the buzz of Berlin is it.
Support DJs kicked off the evening with hip hop, the odd soul record, and a booming bassline throughout - a fine opportunity to check out the horrendously young audience (being 25 years old making one feel like a parent come to pick up an errant teenager) with the baggy pants, sideways cap and gangster handshakes that freemasons would probably consider over the top.
Soon the band hit the stage, starting with obligatory advertisement for the band's web site (www.pharcyde.com) and chant of "Berlin is in da HOUSE". Settling into their stride, aggression seems to be the order of the day to begin with, a la NWA or Public Enemy - heavy on the vocalists (three of 'em at once) with only a DJ and guitarist for support, largely anonymous.
But the dynamic changes repeatedly as the night goes on. The crowd is familiar with much of the material, which is a quick excuse for experimentation - The Pharcyde is big on involvement, hence a "freestyling" lesson involving most of the front row of the audience. From there, it's on to grooves more James Brown and the like, and all too soon for the fans - after a short set of under an hour, including an encore - the band departs. With more than a couple of locals in tow...