Jurassic 5 killed it at Humphreys in San Diego. (Patrick Meissner/LOL-LA)
Chali 2na said it best as we got to the end of the show on July 8.
“Now please tell me that this don’t feel like a backyard party goddammit,” he bellowed into the microphone and laughed.
Perched comfortably at center stage, his toes hanging off the front, his body leaning into the audience, “Welcome to my backyard!!” he added.
And man, it did feel like a backyard party. Or like a luau with hip-hop music and too much security. Which is exactly the point of Humphreys, an old bayside San Diego venue that typically holds host to the finest sounds of yesteryear. That’s why the place is so clean, so scenic, so themed and so well decorated; the venue is part of the show. That, and the typical crowd there is a bit more, shall we say, civilized.
Humphreys staff is used to dealing with fans for shows like the Beach Boys or Journey. Anything remotely current (albeit J5 is debatably no longer “current”) puts stress on the place. Security wasn’t fond of the crowd, and it made everyone feel weird. The place felt stiff, even if it was a gorgeous, tropical resort of a venue, complete with a million-dollar view, fresh sea air, adjoining yacht harbor with fans on the docks and on rafts in the water, and your favorite tracks from Jurassic on the loudspeaker.
Speaking of favorite tracks from Jurassic, they opened up with a few classics like “Freedom” and “Quality Control,” getting the night off to a great start with high energy. Then something happened, the set kind of took a dive for a little while, before finishing strong at the end.
There were two things that happened: the first is that Humphreys has to end their shows by 10 p.m., so the first three-quarters of the setlist got blown through pretty quickly. There was little time for 2na to do his thing as an MC, or for the group to interact with the crowd like they are known for. When they began rapping with enough time to slow it down in the encore, things started to feel like classic J5 again.
The other problem, and this is a bit more to the point, is that J5’s set is just way too long. There are a few tracks (cough “Thin Line”), that should just never be performed again, and that would save time. Then there’s also all of the tired DJ antics with Cut Chemist and NuMark, including an improvised ‘scratch’ session on a giant wooden turntable. The whole thing comes off as cute, and retro in the wrong way, and should probably get pulled, like pronto. NuMark and Cut Chemist are killer DJs in their own right. They shouldn’t be made out to be circus clowns. Just give them a few bars here and there for some tasteful throwdowns, and I think we’d all be happy with that. No need to ‘blow our minds’ with shit that we’re not really impressed by in the first place.
But I digress. Weird things aside, J5 is still killing it. Their shows are tight, rehearsed and practiced. You can tell that everyone up there is loose and having fun. Not to mention the fact that the cream of J5’s catalogue is deep enough for a whole set in itself. And for the times that those tracks were on, everything in the venue just felt right. But perhaps the most poignant observation about the evening was made again, by the big man, Chali 2na himself. He leaned into the crowd like he always does and reminded everyone that “you all are watching six old guys up here, doing what they love.”