Gracious. There’s your one-word review from the second night of Soulcrate’s 10th anniversary show at the Orpheum. Yes, it was also lively and sharp and fun. But that’s not unique in a way befitting three dudes from Sioux Falls managing to hang around in the rap game.
The concert told the story of their journey (so far) without being pretentious or self-congratulatory. Details of how the trio went from playing for 30 friends and family members at a coffee shop to selling out a 700-seat theater on consecutive nights were casually sprinkled between old songs and new. For example, front man Wes Eisenhauer spoke of becoming a father for the first time earlier this month and bypassing opportunities to move to larger markets.
That, is seems, is how they met opener, Prof. The Minneapolis rapper, decked out in a red Christmas sweater, proved charismatic and energetic to the point of being twitchy. (You might think he was all jacked up on Red Bull if he hadn’t made it abundantly clear that his drink of choice is whiskey.) He’s also got some sing-song goofball to him – like a skinny, white version of Biz Markie.
Prof’s performance made me want to inspect his music more closely, after the fact. And I did. That was abundantly easy because he was giving away his latest CD afterward, just handing it out to anyone and everyone. It seemed to validate the theory that touring is more important than record sales in the digital music era.
Even then, advance tickets to the show were only $12. By comparison, beers were $4.50. To be fair, it wasn’t just any beer – I went with a 16 oz. Grainbelt can dubbed, “The Big Friendly.” I couldn’t help but wonder what sort of cut the venue was getting and if the support staff – the handing out tickets and checking IDs – were hired by the acts.
On that note, the Orpheum enhanced the experience. Located in downtown Sioux Falls, it’s 99 years old, has Michelangelo-style paintings on the ceiling and walls (I’d be more specific if I’d have taken an art class in college) and is split into two levels. In this case, the floor was reserved for the youngsters, the balcony better for the stand-and-watch crowd. (Guess which one this 33-year-old square who hasn’t been to a rap concert in 10 years was in?)
I won’t bore you with set-list details, mostly because I wasn’t really keeping track … with one exception. The finale was, “All Day, Every Day,” a song built around the hook “Soulcrate, sucka,” and had been stuck in my head much of the day. (Maybe I’m psychic.) But, again, what struck me was how appreciative the group was of the crowd, thanking them over and over and over for making this night – however unremarkable by stereotypical rap standards – and the last 10 years possible. (They even encouraged fans to stick around after the show so that they could hand out a bunch of high fives, and then made good on that.) It felt like this – having 700 people in their hometown sing along to their songs and just generally have a good time – was pretty much all they ever wanted.
They went so far during one break as to encourage people to do what they love, to chase their dreams no matter where they’re from. Remember when people used to take that to heart instead of classifying it as simple or cheesy? Me, too. And I miss that. Everyone should be open to inspiration, to having heroes big and small. (Full disclosure: one of mine is former MLB standout Darin Erstad. We’re from the same hometown in the middle of North Dakota. Mock me if you will.)
Soulcrate has musical chops; I already knew that coming in. But the humility and heart and community pride that it put on display during its anniversary celebration was equally as impressive and endearing. And even if I’m reading way too much into it, there’s no denying it was a good time.