Chicago native, Open Mike Eagle, made his way to Houston’s Secret Group this past weekend as part of his Tour of the Robert Taylor Homes Tour. The tour name and his latest album Brick Body Kids Still Daydream, pay homage to the public housing projects from where he grew up. With local psychotherapist/MC Genesis Blu and Upstate New York Ph.D. student/producer/MC Sammus, this was the first rap show I’d been to where all the performers had a bachelor’s degree and higher.
I have been familiarized with Mike’s witty and intimate art raps for a while, with Dark Comedy being among the first albums I downloaded. On arrival to the venue, I wondered how Mike’s laid back sing-rapping would translate into a live setting.
Both of the openers did fantastic. Genesis Blu warmed the crowd up with her brand of fun, clever slam-poetry inspired rapping over slick modern production. Her charisma really set the tone for the rest of the evening and for the next opener, Sammus. Her set was not as danceable as Genesis Blu’s, but her passionate delivery on vpersonal songs like”1080p” made her set just as rewarding.
When both openers had finished, I found myself brimming with anticipation for Open Mike Eagle’s set. When taking the stage, Mike was greeted with a roaring applause. After a quick introduction, Mike, armed with a MIDI controller launched into his set, opening with tracks off his most recent album. As Mike performed, he and his DJ used their intricate setup, made up of a Macbook, an effects pedal, and two MIDI controllers, to tap in new rhythms, add effects to his mic, and warp and distort the beat as he performed.
Mike’s set went above and beyond my expectations. His live renditions of fan favorites like “Qualifiers,” “Doug Stamper,” and “Ziggy Starfish” added a new dimension to the music that couldn’t be recreated. If Open Mike Eagle stops by Houston again, I’m definitely going to check him out.