TVD Live: The Pharcyde at Howard Theatre, 2/2

The Pharcyde busted onto the scene in 1992 with their impossibly catchy and entirely unique debut, Bizarre Ride II the Pharcyde. Hailing from South Los Angeles during the era of hard gangster rap and coastal feuds, Pharcyde made a point to go against what was expected from the politics of hip-hop—keeping the samples fun, yet beguiling, and the lyrics playful, but nevertheless thought-provoking:

It was the fame that they tried to get / Now they walking around talkin’ about represent / And keep it real, but I got to appeal / ‘Cause they existing in a fantasy when holding the steel


Bouncing back from a group fall-out and decade-long hiatus, Fat Lip, Slimkid3, and J. Swift [only missing two-original members, Imani and Bootie Brown] exploded onto the stage at Howard Theatre last Saturday to an adoring audience who were ready to go on the bizarre ride. The stage setup was minimalism at its finest—just the Pharcyde boys and a screen projecting a mix of psychedelic images and past music videos. There wasn’t much of a need for more than that.

The dynamics of the group were what kept the performance together, as they went down the list of classics, including “Runnin’,” “Passin’ Me By,” and “Soul Flower,” just to name a few. You could feel the pulse that was generated from them as they paced back and forth the stage, giving us that mix of humor and social relevance that made them so accessible from the very start. It’s an undeniable sensation of not just musical camaraderie, but brotherhood as well. They had the audience jumping from the moment they stepped on stage to the time the lights went down.




So, can one find comfort in the menacing idea of conflict? I don’t see why not. It’s easy to just throw up your hands and say “all right” when all looks bleak and your vision has been compromised. But, when you put aside the ego, or id, or whatever perfunctory cliché one can pull from the book of Freud, there is a lot on the line when it comes to being a performer; cultivating and maintaining a voice, message, and tone that becomes your uncompromising brand would be what comes to mind first.

Pharcyde is proof that they can go through what Complex Magazine called one of the “Worst Fall-Outs in Hip-Hop History,” pick themselves up by the bootstraps, and push forward as the influential group they started as years ago.












Photos: Paul Frederiksen

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