Possibly the most anticipated act of last year's CMJ Festival, the Cool Kids brought their energy to CMJ once again, this time at the Blender Theatre Tuesday night. Having graced the pages of Rolling Stone last year as an "Artist to Watch," the Chicago rap duo "Chuck Inglish" Ingersoll and Mikey Reed proved that they still have it going on.
Taking the stage shortly before 10:30 p.m., the Cool Kids brought their tight hooks and bass-heavy beats to the stage with "Delivery Man." Cameras were flashing and every hand was in the air having anxiously anticipated their entrance, for many, since 8 p.m.
Ingersoll and Reed got the crowd energized during their set, which featured their infamous hit "Black Mags" as well as "Box of Rocks." Even Mickey Factz joined the duo throughout their set, jumping around the stage for "I Rock."
The night was full of surprises as one fan threw Reed a box of cereal to which he eventually emptied into the crowd. Later, fans jumped onstage for a dance-off contest to win copies of their album in addition to jokes being told, the best comedian winning an XBox game. Their second year at CMJ, the Cool Kids continue to bring something new to the table. I can't help but wonder what it will be next year.
While most in attendance were anxiously awaiting the Cool Kids performance, Toronto natives the Carps, kept the crowd energized.
For a two-piece, bassist Neil White and singer/drummer Jahmal Tonge held their own. An unexpected pairing with Tonge providing smooth and soulful vocals, at times reminiscent to that of Usher, and White cartwheeling onstage during their performance, the Carps' vigor was impressive.
The Carps played a half-hour set comprised of eight songs, including a solid cover of Bell Biv DeVoe's "Poison" as well as their interpretive song, "Compton to Scarboro," which Tonge explained being about gun violence. Tonge captivated the audience's attention by telling the story of a man robbing a convenient store as he and White acted out the parts, White convincingly falling to the ground dead as the song progressed.
The lights engulfed Tonge and White onstage in an eerie glow as their catchy R&B beats got the crowd clapping along during their set. While the crowd seemed uninterested at times, Tonge evoked attention with his constant, and sometimes curious, onstage banter. "Listen to your parent's kids, sex is overrated," he said at one point, later asking the crowd, "Do you love us yet? I just need your love."
With the upcoming election on everyone's mind, even at CMJ, the band made their stance known. "Make sure you go out and vote Barack," Tonge said. "We just elected another conservative in Canada and I would hate to see that here."
Cartwheeling onstage before their last song, the Carps ended their set with just as much energy as when they began. While it's often hard being part of such a diverse festival line-up, the Carps worked the stage as if they were the headliners and who knows, in a few years they just might be.
To read the original Cool Kids review posted on the official CMJ blog click here. To read the Carps review, click here.