Sunday night's Ho99o9 show saw metal fans learning to love the ever-expanding world of hip-hop.
In the musical neighborhood of Geto Boys at the intersection of Bad Brains and Death Grips lives Ho99o9 (pronounced “horror”) — a hip-hop duo, TheOGM and Eaddy, from New Jersey by way of Los Angeles.
Brandon Pertzborn, a 23-year-old touring drummer and Grapevine native, joined the group onstage and gave its samples and beats a hard-driving and heart-pounding furor.
Ho99o9 is not a band to be taken lightly, and its live show Sunday at Gas Monkey Bar ‘N Grill was evidence of the fact that it deserves the attention of every fan of metal, politics and absolute chaos.
After sets from Dallas’ electro-shock metal band Razorblade Dolls and the sample-driven punk stylings of Street Sects, Ho99o9 made its presence known to all who turned out to see the show’s headliner, 3 Teeth.
To call Ho99o9 a horrorcore hip-hop act would be too reductive. This is not horrorcore. Sure, there are definitely comparisons that can be made between the samples from the Halloween theme and Bushwick Bill’s “Chucky,” but that would overlook the fact that this is not scary for the sake of shock.
It would also invoke the name of everyone associated with Odd Future, as there are certain nihilistic tendencies these acts share. Ho99o9, however, does not practice nihilism with the intent to merely raise a middle finger to society and escape into a drug-addled haze.
Ho99o9’s aim is not to drop out; its aim is to engage. Seeing its show must be what it was like to see the Dead Kennedys play — you are not just hearing live music or seeing an incredible performance; you are participating in an audio-visual, sociopolitical moment and movement that we hoped would have been over by now.
But the struggle, unfortunately, goes on, and that is why a group like Ho99o9 could not be more important, more relevant and more needed than it is now.
Take a song like “Street Power,” Ho99o9’s second of the evening. With lyrics such as, “Look into my eyes (my eyes) / You ain't no better than me / You ain't never hustle these streets,” there's a sense of urgency to find a voice of truth in a social divide built on misrepresentation and a refusal to seek understanding.
Ho99o9 gets filed under hip-hop, but it is as punk rock as it gets. Its music is not about wallowing in the mire of being a member of the downtrodden. This is a fight to take back our voice and assert our right to take a seat at the table — “Look in the mirror / We gonna kill them dead / Kill for power.”
Ho99o9 is not interested in merely tearing down the system. TheOGM signaled the group's interest in working to find a middle ground between its ideal world and the world as it is when he commented on the lighting of the Gas Monkey stage, saying, “This is the first time anyone used green lights at one of our shows. It looks like money to me, and I’m broke.”
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During the night’s performance, TheOGM oozed dirty sexuality. Eaddy, his partner in rhyme, made the stage floor routine, leaping, moshing and doing a flip in the band’s finale.
For its final song, Ho99o9 chose a cover of Bad Brains’ iconic and anthemic track, “Banned in D.C.,” acknowledging that for everything it has been working toward, the band is not without debt to its influences.
If you missed the Ho99o9 show at Gas Monkey Bar N' Grill, you’ll have another chance to catch it at the end of the summer when it opens for Prophets of Rage and Avenged Sevenfold on Sept. 1 at Starplex Pavilion.
Be warned. In the United States of Ho99o9, the only enemy is inaction, so you’ll want to get moving.