On Wednesday, the Barn was the sight of a massive time travel; an expedition to faraway times and galaxies, led by Okira Myth and Del the Funky Homosapien. A line of people was forming outside the doors to the Barn well before 7:30 p.m., and the stage was instantly thronged with people as soon as the doors were opened. I found a spot for myself wedged between a speaker tower and the stage, and listened to the mix the KUCR DJs were playing while I waited for the show to begin.
The DJs played a large variety of hip-hop, ranging from the Beastie Boys to Gang Starr, while the DJs for Okira Myth set up their turntables and laptop. The stage was set up oddly, with metal girders supporting several red lights and a laser machine, while two fog machines sprayed hazy white smoke around the stage.
A few minutes past 8:30 p.m., Okira Myth took the stage as the lights around the stage dimmed. He was dressed the part as an auteur, independent rapper, wearing a flannel shirt, a fedora and hemp sunglasses with beaded spider webs in place of lenses. Announcing that he had traveled to the Barn all the way from the Inland Empire, the DJ jumped into his set, mixing traditional hip-hop beats with fantastical lyrics describing spaceships, alternate dimensions and a mythological creature he dubbed the “Microphone Colossus.” Many of the people speckled around the audience seemed familiar with Okira Myth’s music, and exchanged various in-jokes and song suggestions with him. Okira Myth was a fitting opener for Del, as their lyrics shared a consistent theme and tone, choosing to rap about good vibes and metaphysics instead of the booties, blunts and Mercedes Benzes that are endemic to mainstream hip-hop.
As Okira Myth finished his set, the lights onstage grew even dimmer as the crowd worked themselves into a frenzy, yelling and clamoring for a closer view. The fog machines started pumping at a faster rate, while Del’s DJ, Domino, began setting up his equipment, his movements obscured by the fog. After what felt like an eternity, the lights came on again and Del the Funky Homosapien took to the stage, his relaxed demeanor and casual walk in sharp contrast with the noise and frenzy of the crowd. He made his way to the microphone, set down his skateboard and camouflage-print windbreaker, and coolly announced, “Hey, I’m Del,” before beginning his set.
While starting with much of his own material, Del continued his set by performing some songs from his time with Hieroglyphics and Deltron 3030, including a stellar rendition of “Virus,” occasionally pausing at several breaks in the song to jokingly tell the audience to “chill,” as the crowd showed great enthusiasm for his older material. Between songs, he told stories about growing up and performing with Ice Cube, as well as mentioning African hygienic customs, saying that if you come home stinking, it means you’ve been doing something. before launching into a performance of his hit song “If You Must,” which garnered him mainstream success after it was prominently featured in the video game “Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 3.” Much of the crowd was impressed with Del showcasing his entire body of work, as many people I had talked to expressed a worry that Del wouldn’t perform any of his old material. After the song, Del took a moment to remind the crowd the importance of self-respect, saying, “Remember when we were young, and we would be proud of anything we did, like building a tower of wooden blocks as high as we could? We need to stay like that.”
He performed more old material, including his first single “Mistadobalina,” which garnered cheers and claps from the already-excited throng of people near the stage. He also performed an improvised freestyle, while Domino mixed an impromptu beat, promising the crowd that they would probably make a song out of it when they got to the studio after the show. Before the last song of the night, Del promised to “take us back to ‘3030’,” performing his seven-minute long jam of the same name. After displaying a peace sign and thanking everyone in attendance, Del left the stage, skateboard in hand. True to his word, there was no encore, and the horde of people made their way to the Barn patio as the house lights came back on. My position next to the speakers made my ears numb, and I headed for my car. Smiling, I put in my Deltron 3030 CD as I drove away, trying to hear over the whine in my ears.