Sir Mix-A-Lot, Blackalicious, MURS, Z-Trip Viva PHX's Crescent Ballroom Outdoor Stage 3/7/14
Crescent Ballroom's outdoor stage at the first-ever Viva PHX festival featured traditional hip-hop sounds, an energetic audience and a show stopping set by hometown hero Z-Trip. With the liquor flowing and hundreds of people thirsting for quality hip-hop, the strong lineup full of icons and legends aimed to please.
The stage's lone local act, Big Mona, brought along a three-piece band to accompany her through soulful covers and original songs. Dazzling the growing crowd with her delicate voice, Mona jumped from keyboard to guitar during each break in the sound. If the young songstress can embrace her star power, she could be a force to be reckoned with.
Murs, who was joined onstage by rising star DJ Foundation, came to Viva PHX with an arsenal of hits, including songs from his popular album Murs 3:16. Always the showman, Murs had the crowd in the palm of his hand as he ran through such hits as "H.U.S.T.L.E.R," "Lookin' Fly," and "L.A." The duo decided the slow the pace with a poetic rendition of Warren G's "Regulate."
Murs then brought out Marley B and Cash Lansky, a pair of burgeoning hip-hop stars out of Tucson and are part of his Murs 316 label, The trio performed the song "All Time High," a single released from Marley and Cash's The Tonite Show album. Murs ended on a softer note, with a rarely perform song "First Love."
With the crowd already pumped from the previous performance, Blackalicious hit the stage with a performance of "Alphabet Aerobics." Although Gift of Gab's microphone was having a few issues in the beginning, he recovered quickly and started spilling dizzying alliteration in alphabetical order peaking at the crowd yelling "ZEALOT!"
He then brought out fellow Quannum artists LifeSava to share a few songs. After teasing the crowd, Gab decided to perform an a capella version of a song called "Blacka" from their upcoming album Imani. Chief Xcel then dropped a small sample of the production, which featured heavy boom-bap drums.
The group the proceeded to go into a special live version of one of their biggest hits, "Deception," and the crowd at it up, singing along with an altered version of the track's sing-songy chorus. Blasting through a slew of songs from their older projects, Blackaliciois kept the energy high with their signature heavy drums, soulful horns and slick-sounding soul samples.
The group also took a moment to pit the crowd against each with a friendly game of "Party Over Here, Fuck Y'all Over There" to keep the energy up. Gift of Gab would leave the stage until returning to go off with a special freestyle for the Phoenix crowd, who roared every time the city was mentioned (natch).
Sir Mix-A-Lot, ostensibly the stage's headliner, kept the energy going by coming out a few minutes earlier than expected, much to the delight of the still-hyped crowd. The rap legend immediately hit the audience with a rapid-fire flow and bouncy drums, which is a little different from his signature style.
After gracing us with a several older selections, Mix-A-Lot let his partner, Outasight, rock a few songs of his own. Sir Mix-A-Lot then went into brief story about how his double platinum hit, "Posse On Broadway," was partially inspired by Phoenix. The drums thundered loud as the old-school beat banged through the speakers and washed over the now-packed audience assembled in the parking lot adjacent to the Crescent Ballroom.
And then Mix proceed to bring 10 women up on stage before busting out the song that everybody had been waiting for, his signature booty shaking jam, "Baby Got Back." Needless to say, much ass was shaken during the song, both by the ladies onstage and those in the crowd.
A talkative Z-Trip capped off the night and brought exclusive remixes featuring artists ranging from Lorde to Too $hort. A rather impressive mashup of Fleetwood Mac's "The Chain" and Dead Prez's "Hip Hop" made the crowd go wild as Z-Trip scratched his way through hit after hit.
After awhile, Z-Trip took a moment to talk about Grammy performance with LL Cool J and Chuck D while thanking Phoenix in the process. Trip then called some B-boy dancers to stage to wow the crowd as he scratched through a version of "Organ Grinder," before asking the crowd if he could debut a new EDM/trap banger. And, of course, the crowd said yes. Z-Trip ended with a beat-juggling session over classical music, showing that he really has no limits to his creativity.
Overall, the great sound and fantastic performances featured on this particular stage last night provided just enough for any true hip-hop fan.
Keep Phoenix New Times Free... Since we started Phoenix New Times, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Phoenix, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Phoenix with no paywalls.