Photos by Brendan Mehan and Pete Yares
, the Sonic Fucking Ninjas stepped onstage to a packed house. Granted, the crowd had come with the main intention of seeing either Talib Kweli and his newest project, Idle Warship, or the legendary hip-hop duo Dead Prez, but successfully winning over an unsuspecting crowd is what separates a band from being an entertaining local act to one that could grow to something so much bigger.
After a lively opening set from the Wellington Papers, Ninjasonik’s DJ Roofeeo took the stage to spin a few songs. The remainder of the group stepped up soon after in expected hyper-energy form. The lead MC, Telli “Bathroomsexxx” Federline, ran from side to side of the stage, screaming spitfire-style rhymes while Jah-Jah “Benrobey,” looking good and inebriated, hung back to unleash his energy and unorthodox dance moves at carefully timed instances. The crowd, made up of what looked like a lot of suburban white kids who were there to see Talib, didn’t appear to be enjoying the show at first. However Telli and Jah-Jah’s energy and unorthodox songs slowly won over the majority of the unsuspecting listeners.
The earthquake-sized bass on the group’s party anthem “Bars” inspired the more inebriated members of the audience to violently dance and jump around while those soberly hanging off the side simply bobbed their heads in approval. After that, every girl from the crowd wearing thick rimmed glasses or an oversized sweater graciously accepted Jah-Jah’s invitation to join him onstage while Telli rapped the group’s song, “Art School Girls.” The group also offered up remix versions of the recently popular songs “Fuck You” and M.I.A.’s “Born Free,” twisting the originals into something completely new. Towards the end of the set, after the crowd had been fully won over, Spank Rock danced out onstage to perform a few of the final songs with the group, an awesome cameo for anyone in the crowd who knew who it was, but for many, it sadly went over their heads as just another guy.
I got the chance to talk to the duo backstage afterwards. After working their way through their friends’ congratulatory praise and weed smoke, Telli and Jah-Jan sat down and explained the difference between playing larger shows like this and playing the DIY shows where they honed their skills. Working past his post-show, tattered vocal chords, Telli said, “It doesn’t really matter where we’re playing, as long as the crowd is in it to have as much fun as we are, because the main goal is to put on a high energy, fun show.” Telli even got pretty deep, saying that, “it doesn’t make a difference playing to the hipster crowd or the hardcore, gangster crowd, as long as they are willing to show those emotions that can be affected by sound.”
Ninjasonik is now going through the mixing process for the upcoming album, Peter Pan Syndrome
, set to come out in June. The album’s first single, “Break Ya Neck” will be released early in March with a tour (still in the works) to follow.