Maybe it's because the high school marching band used to practice in my neighborhood streets as I was growing up, or maybe it's because, right from the beginning, I would forget about the flag girls and focus on that bass drum pounding right into my chest. Either way, when Pigeon John declared to the crowd at the High Noon Saloon on Friday that we were going back to the old school -- back to six years old -- I was ready and willing. The bass beat had already brought me there.
As a six-year-old version of myself, I found ample company in a crowd of rather overly joyous concert-goers. The typical dancing grimaces or cool stares were forsaken for full-on grins. On more than one occasion, those around me were so overcome, they felt the need to turn around and scream, "That's the shit, yo!" in my face, just so I would know. Even if it was not in fact the shit, the energy was infectious, and it remained high right up until the show's end.
A showcase of Midwest independent hip-hop heads surrounded the set of Midwest-born, but west coast-raised Pigeon. Coolzey began the night, representing Iowa, while the surprisingly strong trio of brother MCs and DJ making up Soulcrate Music showed us what was up in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Madison's own brothers in The Crest kept it local, setting up the crowd nicely for Pigeon John.
Using a lot of material from his latest release Pigeon John and the Summertime Pool Party, the set unfolded like a well-blocked play. In "Welcome to the Show" Pigeon John reminded the crowd that they came to have a good time: "I know you got bills to pay, but it's my job to help you let it wash away," sung the chorus. This was logically followed by the highly danceable "Hello Everybody," which is off his 2003 album Pigeon John ...Is Dating Your Sister.
From there the drama continued with an almost narrative arc, bringing in some more serious tracks off ...Is Dating Your Sister
Aware that he looked gloriously foolish, Pigeon continued to play up the shtick. A disembodied voice addressed the crowd from on high, and then Pigeon John held a dramatic conversation with God while crouching by the turntables.
He said good-bye through "Nothing Without You" from 2005's ...Sings the Blues, and a giant Midwest hip-hop love-fest ensued in the form of encore after encore.
Love-fest or no, though, after dancing for nearly five hours straight, this six-year-old was ready for bed.