Hip-hop legends The Coup leave spirits high at The Indy

The CoupPhotos by Tom Dellinger // Written by Bridget Stagnitto //

The Coup with Le VICE, Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist //
The Independent – San Francisco
January 23rd, 2015 //

Hip-hop legends The Coup occupied The Independent on Friday night with another Oakland band, Le VICE, creating an evening of dancing, social awareness and general debauchery.

While The Coup haven’t released a new album since their super-smash album Sorry to Bother You in 2012, Boots Riley has been busy writing a screenplay. The work is based on Sorry to Bother You and his time as a telemarketer. With big actors such as David Cross and Patton Oswalt signing on to the production, we await patiently for the work to hit the big screen.

Le VICE casually started the night with sultry, hip-shaking songs like “Find You”, a song of longing for the existential need to create, to rise with self potential and to ultimately find someone to love thanks to its chorus “I don’t know where you are / Where I go / Gotta find you”.

Vocalist Alex Lee delivers her lyrics with a confident ease. Bassist Sean Stillinger and guitarist Renzo Staiano bring the electro chillwave and indie-pop disposition. While Dame Taylor — who I saw the next night at the Great American Music Hall with Marcus Cohen & The Congress — holds down the heartbeat, the band played old songs off its new album The Payoff.

Following Le VICE came Ren the Vinyl Archaeologist to keep the buzz humming throughout the venue as the crowd got warmed up for the storm that is The Coup. The stage quieted and the tension was cut by the swirling smoke on stage. The silence was broken when the band started jamming out. Suddenly, Boots Riley jumped on stage with his signature mutton chops and powerful words of “The sweet angel of revolution whispering in your ear. What does that sound like? I don’t know. I don’t believe in angels. But if I did, it would probably sound like this …” It sounded like a mix of punk and hip-hop, as the crowd began shaking their hips and stomping their feet.

The party continued with the song “Magic Clap” and the amazing Silk E came out to sing with Riley, wearing some pretty hot boots to go with her hot voice. Riley welcomed the audience to the show and introduced the next song by saying, “Harriet Tubman sang this song. Bob Marley sang this song. Even The Clash sang this song. But what we did was change the lyrics around and the music, and it goes like this.” They then proceeded to play “500 Ways to Kills a CEO”.

The Coup

After that very catchy, yet very powerful song, Riley broke it down and got real with the audience. He talked about the messages in his music: “The people should democratically control the wealth of our labor!”, which was met with a cheer of agreement. He went on with a speech of inspiration: “We make music because we don’t want a real job. But seriously, we can all relate to each other through the music. It is a way to engage with the world and therefore change the world. If you don’t engage with the world, then you will let it pass you by … on Facebook. If you do that, then you are only cheating yourself. You don’t want to lie when you’re older. You want to be part of it and be involved. If you were just standing on the wall, it’s like you weren’t even at the show.” The crowd gave their enthusiastic approval for this electrifying speech with applause, stomps, fists and peace signs of solidarity.

Following a solid jam, the band stepped off stage and Riley took center stage with a spotlight on him as he began to recite the words to “Underdogs” in spoken-word style: “This is for my folders who got bills overdue / This is for my folders check one two”. As he spoke, the crowd responded vehemently to his words of suffering and hope for a better world. Guitarist Gregor Simmons then came out with an acoustic guitar while Boots and Silk E sang the sexy duet “I Just Wanna Lay Around”. The song was made more poignant with the highlight of the two singers’ voices against the acoustic guitar.

The Coup closed out the show with upbeat songs like “Fat Cats” and “Bigga Fish” while bassist J.J. Jungle performed some acrobatics onstage, turning the expectations for a musical performance upside down. Spirits were left high and hopeful as the audience walked away with a fresh outlook on the way of the world, taking life’s struggles with a grain of salt and daring to be optimistic in order to keep growing.

Of course, shaking your booty to forget your troubles is also a great prescription for the blues.

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