That was a totally different act. The Spin had seen G-Side before they appeared at The End on Wednesday night, but this was a totally different band. Yes, it was the same artists playing the same songs, but in the 15 months since we last saw them, they transformed into a preternatural performance unit — a group so comfortable, so excited and so fluid that we're going to say that we saw a totally different act. Not that G-Side wasn't one of the better hip-hop acts we've seen live even before — they were — but after seeing what they've become, there's no competition. This is hands-down one of the best acts in hip-hop today. The Huntsville, Ala., duo, flanked by two back-up singers and a DJ, put on the sort of high-energy, head-bobbin', fist-pumping show that made us fall in love with hip-hop in the first place.
We should probably mention that we were in no mood to be at a hip-hop show when we arrived on Elliston Place. For some reason, the unseasonably warm weather that afternoon set off our allergies something serious — our sinuses were pounding, our head was thumping, and all we really wanted was to chug a bottle of Tussin and pass out. We were also afraid that the crowd would be the same as G-Side's 2010 appearance — y'know, basically nonexistent. But when we arrived and there were more people standing in line to get into the show than had even attended the last gig, we knew we had made the right decision in leaving the house, no matter how much it felt like the Hulk had been let loose in our sinus cavities.
We think the big difference between this year and last is that Nashville has itself a real, honest-to-God hip-hop scene now. Not just pockets of artists doing their own thing, but an actual network of people down to, well, get down. About half of the folks we talked to hadn't even heard G-Side before, but came out on the assumption that with guys like Future, Openmic and Chancellor Warhol on the bill it was bound to be good. And not a single one of them was left unimpressed. Yeah, it helps out the headliners when all their openers throw down super-hard — it was the first time we'd caught Future since his hiatus, Openmic and Ducko dropped a bunch of tracks off their new Molotov album, and Chance was as on-point as ever — but it's huge for the headliners when people are just glad to be there. Good vibes mean great performances, and that's what we got from beginning to end.
One of our favorite things about G-Side is that their albums are like audiophile playgrounds with layers of gorgeous, intricate sounds swirling around the huge kick drums and booming beats. The fact that they managed to bring that clarity and precision into the live arena almost made us lose our wig dome. Honestly one of the best sounding hip-hop shows we've heard in ages — dialed in perfectly to the room, to the crowd — G-Side's set had the crowd moving, grooving and smiling like they had just found a suitcase full of cash. With a set that leaned heavily on their critically lauded latest album Island and was sprinkled with classic cuts from what is now a rather extensive back catalog, the Rocket City crew laid down one of the best shows we've seen all year. Let's hope it doesn't take so long for them to come back next time.