Grieves & Budo at NeumosPosted by Joe Gustav
Grieves & Budo (Photo by Michael Shakins)
“It takes a lot of work,” a dreads-free Mr. Lif said to an enthusiastic audience as he closed his opening set at Grieves and Budo’s Together/Apart release party Monday at Neumos. The indie rap OG, startlingly sporting a clean-cut look of shaved head, fedora, and dress vest, was referring to what lay before him: his mentee’s loyal and eager fanbase, one cultivated through incessant national touring.
Travel and its toll inspired much of T/A, officially released the next day on seminal underground label Rhymesayers, but the night was more a celebration of the fruits of those labors and a homecoming for the former Seattlites. Grieves’ hip-hop is of the emo-rap sort, in line with labelmates Atmosphere, but the positivity in the building was remarkable. Though first opener Type performed to a scattered and distracted crowd, Portland’s Sapient was well-received with steady hands in the air and cheerful applause despite his relative obscurity and that his set was decent at best; the young crowd simply wanted to enjoy music. It was refreshing considering how too many audiences, albeit mostly ones skewing older, display indifferent attitudes to earnest performances.
Still, the large floor crowd wanted the headliners, so Mr. Lif kept his set short. Backed by local singer Anomie Belle and her band, the now sometime-Seattle resident ran through a skit in which he kills his boss (played by bassist Keith Cushner) after being reprimanded for smoking weed at work. He then performed new, mellow numbers befitting his recently upstanding exterior.
Lif, who Grieves repeatedly called his mentor in hip-hop, would reappear later in the headliners’ set, which began with single “Bloody Poetry.” Budo, who crafted T/A and 2008’s collaboration 88 Keys and Counting using entirely original production, added live trumpet to the song. Switching between trumpet, guitar, and keys throughout the set while doing his trademark “Budo bounce,” as an on-looking Sol called it, his live instrumentation underscored the warmth and hopefulness in Grieves’ energetic rhymes about heartbreak and loss.
Both performers are not physically impressive but their outsized energy was. The crowd matched it through a nearly 90-minute long set, MC and producer gasping for breath between only a few cuts. The new LP was well-represented and the audience’s most fervid members already knew the words to highlights “Sunny Side of Hell” and “Heartbreak Hotel.”
“We fly out to Minneapolis at 7 a.m. to do this sh*t all over again,” Grieves said between tracks to cheers. “And then to New York and Dallas … It’s crazy y’all.” That was little more than half-way their set. The veritable road warriors soldiered on. The crowd thinned before the concert’s 12:30 closing but was louder and more energetic than at its earlier apex, relishing the duo’s last local date before embarking on the 44-show Warped Tour for the summer. Yes, it most certainly does take non-stop hard work, but the end result was one of the most enthused and devoted crowds witnessed locally in a long time.