Review: The Pharcyde @ Leeds University

Monday 8th April 2013 | Alex

February 9th The Pharcyde came to Leeds. It was a big deal. These guys are legends - their 1992 album ‘Bizarre Ride II The Pharcyde’ is Kanye’s favourite album, and I’m not surprised. It’s a record hugely influential within alternative hip hop, and driven by an enthusiasm for eccentricity the group’s debut garnered critical acclamation. Have they still got it 20 years on?

In short, yes – the gig was wicked. Whatever they had before, it’s still there. The group are loveable and wholly light hearted, and they haven’t lost their energy- they bounced on the stage – off the stage! It’s good to see the guys still have the zest to accompany their lyrics, which are absurd, by the way. They couldn’t have been more genuinely excited to kick some hilarious rhymes, and by the time ‘Oh Shit!’ was on the University Union was buzzing:

“Little sally walker, sittin’ in a saucer,

Oh, how I tossed that ass up,

Like a mission in the woods, woody woodpecker would if he could,

But I didn't want to pass it up”  Opening of ‘Oh Shit!’ – The Pharcyde

But that’s not enough. They’re in their 40s now – for them to keep doing what they were before would be embarrassing, frankly. That’s what I was worried about; I didn’t need to be. They didn’t try to act like kids, and advanced their performance in accordance with the reality – they are some old dudes. There was maturity – the bounce was still there, but they upped the sophistication. They had a keyboard up there with them and some damn creepy, old-school animation playing behind them. It wasn’t just music – it was an experience. Actually, it all reminded me of some sort of re-vamped jazz performance. What was so great about the Pharcyde is still there and that’s great to see, but what’s even better is their modernisation – an awareness of what had to change. They were cooler than ever.

It was tight, but not perfect. They stuck to their earlier stuff as advertised, but it seemed a bit nihilistic in an ‘all our newer stuff sucks’ kinda way. And it meant they skipped some of their best tunes – ‘Drop’ was one we were all looking forward to hearing, but didn’t come up.

So, The Pharcyde were cool. That’s not important, though. What is important is that there’s a resurgence in old-school hip hop, and we’re seeing some crazy acts come to the UK. The Pharcyde are done now, but A Tribe Called Quest are at Wireless in summer which is sure to be madness and Nas is at the 02 on July 19th supported by Iggy Azelea, check out our interview!

So, 90s greats are still awesome, and they’re still about.


Check out The Pharcyde on twitter: @thepharcyde242


Written by Alex Dean