If the crowd of Cool Kids fans and sneaker aficionados at Los Angeles’ Music Box theater didn’t see Travis Barker coming, it was because they still had their 3-D specs on. The pop-out video for the Barker/Cool Kids collaboration “Jump Down” had just been given its world premiere, and as the drop-down screen rose, the confetti cannons blasted. The Blink-182 drummer returned fire, in real life this time, as Chuck Inglish and Mikey Rocks ripped through the new song.
It was a cherry moment, but all too brief. Though Barker’s name was on the marquee outside, this would be his lone appearance, as a top-off to a strong set from the Chicago rap duo, who performed a handful of unreleased songs to the hungry audience. The video itself was less than stunning — depicting a pretty mellow day in Venice Beach, and just barely 3-D — and the three-hour lead-up included a lot of bad local rap. But again, there were new songs from the Kids.
“I’ve got an announcement,” said Chuck about halfway through. “We’ve been locked up in a bullshit contract for a while now. Well, we got out of that shit yesterday, and we’re gonna put this song out in the fall.”
The snarl of 808 bass and funky guitar licks that followed was “Bundle Up,” a tribute to the pair’s hometown that included the choice Mikey line, “I’m cold as a Lean Cuisine.” Another new track “Newsflash” contained the lyric, “Same old song with a brand new chorus,” and it was sorta true. They were still rhyming about their rides, even though they’d traded up from Dyno bikes (with the black mags, black mags, black mags) to Range Rovers and Chevy Blazers.
The group was almost uniquely suited to the event thrown by Sneaker Pimps, whose concerts are always accompanied by a gallery of rare, vintage and artist-designed shoes. (A quick sample of those on display at the Music Box: one of Shaq’s massive kicks; a former Nike deconstructed and reassembled as a robot; a green, red and gold footwear version of a Chinese dragon; and an iridescent Adidas with wings.) Cool Kids classic “One Two” could’ve been a theme song: “One, two, lace up my shoes / Three to the four, when I step out the door …”
In truth, the real shoe show was on the floor. The crowd was as fashion-forward and brand-conscious as the band, and didn’t seem to mind one bit the commercial overload that surrounded them — demos of the new NBA Jam game, T-shirts from various vendors, fancy headphones and cheap cognac, plus a hard-working hypeman who broke up the truly wack string of opening acts (we won’t name names) by tossing out boxes of free shoes.
DC rapper Phil Ade’, a Raheem DeVaughn associate, was the exception to the rule, spitting golden era raps that split the difference between Black Sheep boom-bap and A Tribe Called Quest consciousness. But it was ultimately Cool Kids’ night — a fact reflected by the wild cheers offered up to anything hailing from the duo’s only proper release to date, 2008’s The Bake Sale. Clearly, people are hungry for more.
- Free Throws
- Freak City
- One Two
- Mikey Rocks
- Sour Apples
- Bundle Up
- Black Mags
- Gold and a Pager
- A Little Bit Cooler
- Jump Down (with Travis Barker)