I just deleted like an hour’s worth of recordings I made of me talking to myself on my phone that were supposed to help me write this article. Among the unintelligible garble were gems like “apparently flip-flops needed for backstage shower” and “we are watching 'Futurama,' which will be off-air soon.”
The backstage I’m referring to was inside Philadelphia's Union Transfer. For the second-to-last show of the Run the Jewels (El-P and Killer Mike) tour, I decided to swing down there with my friend Despot (the co-host of our incredible radio program Chillin Island), who was re-joining the tour as a featured rap artist after having to go to a wedding.
Our adventure began with the 4:15 Megabus to Philly from 34th Street and 12th Avenue, a particularly scenic stretch of Manhattan, mere steps from the architectural jewel that is the Jacob Javits Center. Despot, who earlier made me change my ticket from the 5:15 to the 4:15, proceeded to show up as the bus was driving away.
To kill time, we went to the fancy store Nepenthes a few blocks away where fancyboy Despot bought some fancy socks in an array of fabulous colors.
Despot had never ridden on a cheapo bus before. He was surprised by the relative comfort, but disappointed at the ilk of passenger. I was seated to to an M&M-crunching, video-game-playing-with-the-sound-on dude. Candy Crush? More like Caca Crush, am I right?
In Philly, we got off the bus and took a cab to the venue. The ride was less than six bucks and my “things are cheaper outside New York” sensor started beeping. The prices of complete McDonald’s meals are a pretty good gauge of a place’s cheapness. A pack of cigarettes costs about a nickel outside of New York. Happy hours in the midwest feature 3-for-1 cocktails for a dollar. You can get a pound of bad weed for five dollars outside of New York as well. That’s why everybody is so fat and dumb out there! Our next obstacle was the locked fence. Pictured above is famous rapper El-P not opening the fence.
Next was the soundcheck. Soundchecks for rap shows can sometimes take upwards of 15 minutes. The soundchecks for my now-"deceased" rap group Das Racist used to take longer because we had multiple mics, a few pedals, and projections. Still, it would usually take less than 30 minutes. The one pictured here took about three. The downside: shitty soundguys angry they have to adjust the sound for a bunch of “rap guys” instead of Slayer. Sorry I can’t make your job more difficult by having to test a bunch of guitars and keyboards and drums, dude. You figure they’d appreciate the extra time on the Gearslutz forum.
Backstage was a shower, a washer/dryer (!), and a television. The holy trinity of backstages, because on tour, all your clothes are most likely filthy, you are most likely filthy, and everybody’s bored.
Here is a video of El-P's hypeman Shannon warming up his vocal chords into a towel:
This is Amaze88. He is a producer and a rapper.
He encountered a ghost on the Run the Jewels tour stop in Baton Rouge, Louisiana:
“I didn’t know it was supposed to be haunted. We do the show. I go up to the green room, because the other green room was flooded. I have earplugs in, and it’s blaring music. I can’t really hear anything. I get up to go the bathroom. I go to the bathroom, and I’m using the urinal, and all of a sudden I hear, in a thick Southern accent, 'Go on and get outta heah!' I left the bathroom, and looked around, like 'How could this be?' That’s pretty much it.”
Here is a video of Despot doing his mid-set aerobics, with a little help:
A decent spread on the snacks table. They also had a tea kettle, which was essential. I was throwing back Kava Stress Relief and Bengal Spice like there was no tomorrow, all night long. Kava is a western Pacific plant whose roots are ground into a sedative drink. I’ve been using it to replace drinking, etc. So far it’s going well, although I think I need to stop fucking with these weak Yogi teas and just get the “raw” powder. If anyone has experience with this stuff, let me know.
El-P, Killer Mike, Shannon, and Despot doing “Tougher, Colder Killer” from EL-P’s album Cancer For Cure.
After the show we tried going to a few bars—one was boring and too loud to talk, another was closed. We met a dude named Party Steve who went home early (it was a Monday). Our next stop was Ken’s Seafood, pictured here, with the Schwarz brothers (Torbit and Wilder), who are playing in El-P's live band on this tour. The food was very good, especially considering the restaurant was open past 3 AM. I’d say better than New York's Wo Hop, Great NY Noodletown, or 69 Bayard (sacrilege, I know). I ordered a rum and Coke, which I promptly regretted. Ken was a lively and awesome dude with a pretty big chain. Thumbs up.
Shortly after this photo was taken, I decided it was time to go. At this point it was 4 AM and I had to catch the 5 AM Megabus somewhere around the 30th street station about two miles away from the bus. I ran into only one other person the entire walk through several of the city’s neighborhoods. Philadelphia is a TOTAL KILLZONE.
This show was late in the tour, and people seemed to have been mostly settled into their zones. The machine was humming smoothly and the rappening was happening. I hit up El outside his house last night at 3 AM because I thought people were hanging out after playing their last show of the tour at Webster Hall, he hasn’t hit me back yet. Updates soon.
The five-week Run the Jewels tour ended last night at Webster Hall. Next up is Europe.
Dapwell used to be in world famous rap group Das Racist. Now he is a writer for world famous music website Noisey. He's on Twitter — @dapwell