Shabazz Palaces, !!!

If you’ve ever had your full wits about you at a 40 Watt show, chances are you were: 1. The designated driver for your friends because you’re awesome and responsible. 2. Totally broke because you spent your last few dollars of tips from your service industry job on tickets to see Hunger Games 10 times. 3. You’re not paying attention. The 40 Watt Club is a landscape for real-life neglecting, “natural” high-inducing good times, and Apr. 19 was no exception. !!! (chk chk chk), Shabbazz Palaces and Mad Axes offered a modern music experience not often seen behind the double-black double-doors on Washington St.

Local fly-checking hip-hop act Mad Axes started the night off right with songs from their new album, Debut Smash, which you can pick up at their web DJ TRIZ (pronounced “trees”) supported, impressively spinning vinyl for Malcom and Uncle Lou while the tallest man and the shortest woman in the house danced side by side. Not a far cry from their previous endeavor, Deaf Judges, Mad Axes is an ebullient display of “pro-life suicide rap,” whatever that is. If it means you can shake your head really fast, pump your fist and chug 24 oz. PBRs to it, then I whole hearted agree. I highly recommend an outing to see these guys at their next show if you’re into Wu-Tang and wearing sunglasses at night.

Full disclosure: Shabbazz Palaces is my favorite new hip-hop outfit out there right now. So, let it be known that the following is as unforgivingly biased as FOX News. Suspectingly approached as a normal stage- bouncing, linear-lineup performance, when asked before the set, Shabbazz front man and former ‘Digable Planets’ member Ishmael Butler aka ‘Palaceer Lazaro’ informed me of the contrary,”We just get out there and do it. We play some real songs… some made up ones… just feel it out.” You never would have guessed from the demonstration that followed. Shabbazz Palaces views as a demonic Chucky Cheese’s stage act, tastefully snapping into synchronized dance numbers and echoing with a lush atmosphere of minimal tech, they stand walled behind a gallery of electronic and tangible drums, playing most sounds live with a comfortable expression years of performance allow. To a tightly wound crowd, Ishmael and multi-instrumentalist Tendai Maraire concocted an absorbing mix of shortened and lengthened versions of tracks mostly from their newest release, Black Up. A crowd of bobbing heads and awkward booty dancing patrons struggled to offer praise in the non-existent breaks during the relentless 45-minute set. If you have a bucket list, put these guys on it and quickly off again.

This was accidently my first !!! experience, but its not hard to see why these dudes are a huge hit the world over and particularly in dance-thirsty Athens. Energetic and engaged, lead tongue clicker Nic Offer dominates the stage in total disregard to himself, microphone cords, and to the delight of the eager female attendees, the upward crawl of his shorty shorts. His stage presence paired with the long-at-it accomplices that make up !!! throw a ’90s dance move inducing punk rave anyone can get down to.