Oh, rap shows. Why are you so strange? Do we just live in a world that belongs to rock ‘n’ roll or have I been brainwashed into believing that a show must feature guitars and drums in order to be evocative? Probably the second thing. Either way, last Friday’s Creeps and Ghosts (hosted by Ghost Pizza, Creep Street, and SATX Music at Nightrocker Live) made a mighty effort at delivering “Stuff! Things! Explosions! Babes!” and a host of other craziness mentioned on their Facebook invite. It was a mixed bag, completely encapsulated in the performances of emcees Pokell and Dooley.
Pokell took the stage first in a hoody emblazoned with the Super Mario Bros. cast. Opener “Proto and Po Intro” was comprised of a Mega Man 3 sample, a drum break, and a call-and-response chorus. Pokell exhibited high energy, but his mic was too loud and both his music and hypeman Tye G too quiet. Some dedicated fans played ball, but the imbalance was damming the energy flow. With no DJ on set and a sound engineer absent, they were likely performing off a non-normalized audio file (or worse, an iTunes playlist). This was sad because Pokell’s set was full of interesting ideas, sampling both late ’80s chiptune music/foley and classic beats by Jay Dee and MF Doom.
Dooley had better stage execution and was more conventional. Backed by DJ Kirby, the audio was balanced and Dooley’s delivery was even-tempered and intense. He recalled a fair-skinned Drake, except his one sung moment on “Worth A Few” that was quintessentially rap: flat and blunted (like a bat, not a joint). He held his own against a difficult crowd, rapping alone over a Steely Dan piano sample on “Things to Come” and the dancehall cut “In the Now.” He went hard on closer “Exhibit Me,” a chorus-less, five minute tower-of-power trip.
Then things really came together when Dooley and Pokell performed a final set together as SAPD (San Antonio Pokell Dooley). The taller, clean cut Dooley swapping verses with the shorter, more slovenly Pokell made the duo seem like a backpacker update to Q-Tip and Phife Dawg. They opened with an unnamed freestyle, passing the one good mic back and forth and closed with a sick cover of “Otis” by Jay-Z and Kanye West, complete with original verses. In that moment, the feeling was that both artists were en route to something big, just not that night.