Editor's note: check out a full photo gallery at the bottom of this article.
A couple months ago, Killer Mike and El-P bestowed upon the world a Christmas f*cking miracle, releasing the third Run The Jewels album on Christmas Eve, three weeks ahead of its scheduled drop date. On the record, the duo continues to talk a tough game, rapping about guns and violence and sex and other classic hip-hop fodder. But at their core, Mike and El are two of the sweetest dudes in the business. They care about social issues, they release all their music for free... they even made an album made from cat noises and donated the proceeds to charity.
This giving spirit translates to their live shows as well; Their February 22 stop at Portland, Maine's State Theatre came near the end of their US tour. They play in Boston tonight, then have a four-night residency at Terminal 5 in New York before a couple other US dates. After that, it's off to Europe in late March and beyond that, they'll keep busy until July. They could be forgiven for passing through Maine and turning it down from 11 to, say, 8. They love their fans too much to compromise on anything, though, so they absolutely brought it without reservation or sign of fatigue. This stop was also particularly special for El-P, since among the sold-out crowd of ravenous jewel-runners were his father and step-mom.
Flanked by giant inflatable versions of the iconic two-hand gesture seen on RTJ album covers, the two emerged channeling Queen to introduce themselves: "We Are The Champions" played as they, red plastic cups in hand, implored the crowd to join them in a joyous sing-along. That seems like a foolproof way to get a crowd on your side early. Busting out a high-energy set of bass-rattling hip-hop is another solid method, and that's what Run The Jewels did for the rest of the show.
Like all their concerts, this show was a collaboration between crowd and performer. They feed each other, and this isn't a relationship the duo takes lightly. El-P addressed his audience, saying that performing these shows reminds him that when the world seems to be in a bad place (neither he nor Mike are exactly #TeamTrump), traveling the globe and playing for positive people makes him think everything will be OK.
That's a powerful message for trying times. Look around you, and if the people you see are good, that's one less reason to worry about big-picture issues. I can't vouch for the character of my fellow concertgoers, but the guy walking on his hands next to me seemed to be in a good place. For a couple hours, the world was just happy people enjoying excellent music, so I see where El-P was coming from.
portland my pops is in the crowd tonight i'll need you to make extra noise so he knows his son done good. thanks.
— el-p (@therealelp) February 23, 2017
THANK YOU PORTLAND!!
— Run The Jewels (@runjewels) February 23, 2017
Check out our exclusive photo gallery below, and let us know in the comments if you've seen Run The Jewels live, and how wild of a time that was.
Images: Derrick Rossignol