Public Enemy, Doug E. Fresh
SXSW showcase reviews
Reviewed by Chase Hoffberger, Fri., March 15, 2013
Public Enemy, Doug E. FreshDoritos Bold Stage, Thursday, March 14
White people. Red carpets. Hors d'oeuvres wrapped in bacon. High heels. Up-dos. Push-up bras. Dudes who may be yachters. Pepsi products. Jack Daniels gratis. Stacks upon stacks of Doritos Nacho Cheese corn chips. Thursday night on Fifth Street was a SXSW showcase, but make no mistake: it was marketed to the teeth. Lights down, host Esteban onstage: "In the words of LL Cool J, 'It's about to be bumpin' tonight,' so who's ready? First, we gotta plug in this vending machine." A six-story construction thus kicked into high gear, feeding heavy metal through two bug zapper-type objects, sparking up a high-definition virtual vending machine and thus bringing human beatbox Doug E. Fresh onto the stage. Damage done and Frito Lay now responsible for having brought forth a rapper, it's time to steal from the gospel of Public Enemy's Chuck D: "How do you sell soul to a soulless people who sold their souls to a giant bag of Doritos?" Tonight's four-act bill – Fresh, Public Enemy, Ice Cube, and LL Cool J – could double as rap's first-round Mount Rushmore, but the scene around Doritoville suggested it was anything but. Fresh's call-and-response cypher at the top worked Cool Ranchers into a frenzy, but that Baja Picante flavor fizzled shortly after, when host Esteban ushered in a pseudo battle of the bands amongst three up-and-comers and kept Public Enemy at bay. Heroic hype man Flavor Flav existed in absentia when the "Revolutionary Generation" took the stage, leaving chief preacher Chuck D to handle the set solo out front of an uninspired backing crew of Professor Griff and two stoic-looking S1Ws. We didn't stick around for Ice Cube or LL Cool J, but both those guys have done kids movies. Those kids love Doritos.