Cypress Hill at The Vogue, Aug. 9 

Cypress Hill didn't disappoint any fans that packed the Vogue on a sweltering Monday night. Their setlist mined the vaults of their catalog, and they kept the crowd engaged. Sure, they might not have jumped around quite as much as they did when they started performing nearly two decades ago, but they performed with as much conviction as before, proving that a good song is transcendent of things like time and geography.

Most of those who attended have been along for the ride since the early years. A mostly late-twenty-to-thirty-something crowd gave a lot of energy to the performers. Sound problems plagued a good chunk of the set, eliciting some gnarly feedback and making B-Real's vocals undecipherable, but the veteran performers stayed professional, apologizing to the crowd while they were "getting the sound right" instead of bitching out the soundman. Eventually things got dialed in, though there was not much mid-range coming through.

It was a little ironic that the Cypress Hill show was no-smoking (well, for cigarettes, at least). But fear not, for the Hill has not outgrown their stoner roots. It's not quite the outlaw activity it once was (it's practically legal in their native Cali, now), but the four-foot bong the roadie brought out halfway through the set got its own spotlight.

A sloppy percussion solo from the usually reliable Eric Bobo fell a little short, although the mere fact that there's live instrumentation along with the DJ is one reason for Cypress Hill's stage show's longevity. Bobo made up for it later with a better showing during a breakdown where he and the DJ traded Eights back and forth. I guess he has to warm up.

Domestic duties kept me from getting to the Vogue in time to hear the first act, Brad Real (I bet he's glad he changed his name from B-Real), but I managed to catch the entirety of the Mudkids set. Russ has been spreading the love and the spotlight more and more, and newer hype-man Mr. Kenetic is the perfect addition to the live show. His presence and cadence give him the aura of a star about to break out. But to play the hypeman, he should probably learn more of Russell's raps so that he back him up more meaningfully.

Russ is as strong as ever, able to command an audience, seemingly having fun playing with the delivery of his oft-complex rhyme scemes. It's nice to have DJ Elp-Mass rocking the show with the group; their chemistry is strong. The lo-fi quality of his beats is hit or miss, sometimes jumping out of the speakers, sometimes sounding "muddy". What Elp-Mass has mastered is creating enough space in the music for Russ to always do his thing and never get drown out.

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