Hurtling through the atmosphere on an indigo spaceship Monday night, The Flatbush Zombies made a unanimous decision to hit their seat eject button.
Their destination: Berlin. Blame it on the LSD that they sprinkled in their orange drink, but the East-Coast rappers, had one objective: to set ablaze the stage at Astra.
Meanwhile, back on Earth, the crowd packed tighter than a beehive, waited in a powder keg of anticipation. The was a pause, a flash of light and then it happened. The ominous melody of, “Hello”, the opening track, filled the arena. The largely male crowd of 20-somethings surged towards the barricade and when the synchy gut-punching beat finally dropped, The Zombies crashed onto the stage. Fans, wasting zero time, hit back hard in form of a mosh pit. T-shirts ripped, beer jostled out of cups into hair and faces and an errant navy blue sneaker flew across the room.
The crowd packed tighter than a beehive
It was business as usual for Meechy Darko, Zombie Juice and Erik the Architect, who are waking the dead all across Europe this October. Performing tracks from their sophomore release, “Vacation in Hell”, the Brooklyn based-trio’s brand of psychedelic hip-hip is clearly having a moment.
Meechy Darko, the most irreverent lyricist of the group, laid down his verses, drawing attention to the beat while capitalizing on the gravel in his voice. With the lyrics,” Watch me turn the crowd into a Spartan scene. Mosh pit then I’m Moses part the sea. “, sent the crowd deeper into a frenzy. Those closest to the stage put their hands up in anticipation for Meech to throw his body into the masses. But salvation arrived sometime later during the hit single, « Vacation » when
Meech, clad only in his perspiration and ripped pink denim jeans, took a trip around the room on a bed of hands and a pillow of weed smoke.
The Flatbush Zombies brought high energy that never seemed to waver.
They managed to keep control over the space and interact with the crowd even during the more somber tracks, like, « Trapped ». Alone, in the middle of the stage, clutching the mic, Erik, spit his verse, with a measured intensity and the crowd, ever present, sang along in unison.
Zombie Juice, flamboyantly shamanesque with large braided beard and bright multicolored camouflage cargos, delivered a self-esteem boost to the masses. Crouching down at the corner of the stage, the Brooklyn native demanded for the crowd to repeat, “I love myself.” The lyric, no doubt a nod to rap heavy weight, Kendrick Lamar’s,” I”, is a testament to the groups versatility. Sure, they rap about drug use and indiscriminate sex, but they bring it with the political and racial wokeness of the time. The group looks out for their fans. Whether it’s tossing them bottles of water after they rhyme acapella or monologue about perseverance in the face of depression and anxiety, The Flatbush Zombies care.
There is no doubt this group exists in the now, yet they somehow manage to straddle the line between vintage and contemporary. Later in the evening, the DJ blasted the White Stripes and the three members, lined up in the foreground for a head banging session. Awash in Pulsating neon lights and jarring electric guitar, the scene was somehow intimate. All at once they morphed from fresh, chiseled ab-ed rappers, to awkward teenagers, rocking out in a brownstone basement, whilst their slightly older uncle (who is supposed to be supervising them) is upstairs kicking game to Sheila on the rotary.
Fictional flashbacks aside, there were serious moments of bravado and Alpha energy on display. At points during the gig, Meech appeared frustrated with the audience, urging them to “Stop shouting out requests, “This isn’t fucking karaoke”. Perhaps the more poignant outburst came when a male concertgoer licked his lips and made sexual gestures towards Meech. Misogyny intersecting with itself was apparently not a good look for Meech, causing him to leave the stage in a huff. Zombie Juice and Eric remained on stage trying to maintain the positive vibes that the group had cultivated throughout the night performance. They moved across the stage hands outstretched to the fans as if soothing balm on an abrasion, but the damage was done. Just as quickly as they appeared, the Zombies Vanished back into their spaceship and all that was left on the way that navy blue sneaker who had not found its owner.