There was too much talent on the tiny stage at Lizard Lounge last night. I’m sure this is often the case given the size of the venue and the sheer volume of talent in the Boston area. Nonetheless last night was something special.
Boston MCs Mr. Lif and Akrobatik combine their powers to form The Perceptionists. Their latest release “Resolution” is one of my favorite recent hip hop releases. At this particular show, they were backed by Van Martin, Tommy Benedetti, and Chris Beam—guitar, drums, and bass respectively—of Boston reggae band Dub Apocalypse as well as DJ Mister Rourke.
Their first set was all highlights from “Resolution” with Dub Apocalypse performing the backing tracks and still breathing new life into already stellar jams including “Early Mourning,” “Hose Down,” “Out of Control,” and “Resolution.” The second set was a mix of Perceptionists songs mixed with previous solo efforts from Mr. Lif and Akrobatik. I recognized a couple songs from Akrobatik’s phenomenal “Absolute Value” album. That set started with just the DJ and then musicians were added over the course of a few songs, giving it a very distinct feel from the first set.
This sold-out show gave me chills. I was initially antsy about how the intimate, almost cabaret setting might create a restrained, muted atmosphere, but the room was very much alive and the energy was palpable. The band was flawless, playing off the MCs as if they’d been performing together for years. Mr. Lif and Akrobatik owned the space like they were playing in their own living rooms. If the shout-outs were any indication it was clear they were performing to a room full of friends and family. This was one hell of a way to start a tour.
The second set contained an incredible freestyle that I attempted to film.
The only question I had the end of the night, my only tiny quibble, was how come we didn’t get to hear Lif and Akrobatik rap over a reggae rhythm? It felt like such a missed opportunity given it’s Dub Apocalypse’s specialty. I went in assuming most of the backing rhythms would be reggae-tinged. I’ve already forgiven everyone because the music and the night were top notch in every way.
“Resolution” gets better with every listen and I’m thoroughly enjoying my journey through Mr. Lif’s and Akrobatik’s discography. I went in knowing a few Mr. Lif records and I caught a short Akrobatik set at a festival in 2015. Last nights show was reminder that I hadn’t done all of my homework. “Resolution” is available on vinyl and you can rest assured I went home with a copy.
I went back to watch their NPR Tiny Desk performance and lo and behold, Van Martin and Tommy Benedetti are playing guitar and drums in the clip! Now idea how I missed that the first time.