Cypress Hill / Atmosphere / Z-Trip @ Toyota Music Factory, Irving, TX

Words and photos by Scott Rowe
It's crazy to think about the resurgence of live music sweeping through the US, but it's absolutely amazing and as something I've mentioned in another review, that it's sorely missed and totally appreciated.  With each week it feels, tours have been making their initial date in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. The long-awaited Hella Mega Tour featuring Green Day, Fall Out Boy, and Weezer opened their tour nearly two weeks ago.  As coincidence would have it, the opening tour date for Cypress Hill and Atmosphere would be at the Pavilion at the Toyota Music Factory in Irving.  The two long-standing groups provided an fantastic evening of celebrated careers in rap, displaying their varying styles of the genre.

Zach Sciacca, professionally known as DJ Z-Trip, stood atop his perch, readying his turntables and MacBook, looking out on the gathering fans walking into the Pavilion. Before queueing the music, he gave a short, yet gracious speech about not only showing up early to catch the first of his two sets, but to recite a sentiment that's become a common theme at these resurgent live shows: 'it's great to be back.' He mentioned that these are the first shows in 18 months and that it's been a longtime coming. If you're not familiar with Z-Trip, he's a connoisseur of remixing and mashing. His set was an eclectic blend of rock and rap, seamlessly intertwining the tracks into a finished product that felt complete and sometimes sounded better than the originals.

I, myself, was very anxious to finally see Atmosphere perform. I know they've come through the DFW area, but I just have not been able to catch one of their shows. I must give my wife, Megan, all the credit for knowing Atmosphere at all. She listens to a lot of rap and she introduced me to the genre greats of Brother Ali, Sage Francis, Aesop Rock, and of course, Atmosphere.

The combination of Ant and Slug, with the addition of a second DJ on tour, create a chill 'atmosphere' with a plethora of visually descriptive rhymes. Walking onto stage cloaked in a Rhymesayers hoodie, Slug quickly traded the megaphone in hand for the mic and jumped into "Puppets", off of their 2008 release When Live Gives You Lemons, You Paint That Shit Gold. Slug prowls the stage left to right, then right to left, keeping his full attention on the crowd. He only stops rhyming to give the happiest grin to the fans and proclaiming "thank you for looking at us". The set is full of great songs such as "Yesterday", "The Best Day", and "Sunshine", all of which Slug takes a blank canvas and colors it with so much detail, you cannot help but simply visualize every word he's spitting and know exactly what he's talking about. He's talking about life, in its truest form. Day to day, the highs and the lows. Their set finishes with "Trying to Find a Balance", performed with a trifecta of fantastic visuals, a thunderous track, and an emphatic delivery by Slug. Needless to say, I was very impressed with their set and not let down by any means. 

Z-Trip made his second appear behind the booth and continued to guide us down the hybrid sounds of rap and rock. He mentioned earlier that his two sets would be more like Side A and Side B and that those who made his earlier set would notice the difference. His set extended beyond his allotted time as DJ Lord was attending to a problem with his setup.

By time Cypress Hill hit the stage, the air in the Pavilion was pungent from those enjoying their favorite strains, a fitting addition to the band's onstage marijuana tributes and visuals. Cypress kicked their set off with a rowdy rendition of their 1993 single, "I Ain't Goin' Out Like That". This is my first time seeing Cypress Hill perform, but my second time seeing B-Real and DJ Lord (Prophets of Rage), and one thing's for sure, B-Real knows how to command the stage. Sen Dog provides a great compliment to B-Real's in your face delivery, adding a hint of smoothness to the raw emotion of much of their set. Cypress definitely leans heavy on the funk and fury of rap, the sound of the 90's that they are synonymous with. Much like you'd expect for a group that's been making music for 30 years, Cypress's setlist was full of rap hits such as "How I Could Just Kill a Man", "Insane in the Brain", and "(Rock) Superstar". The set ended with a cover of House of Pain's "Jump Around", a song I saw B-Real performed with Prophets of Rage and was much in line with that performance. Outside of the initial technical difficulties, their set was clean, loud, nostalgic and fun.

Photos of the show are below:

Cypress Hill
Cypress Hill / Atmosphere / Z-Trip @ Toyota Music Factory, Irving, TX Cypress Hill / Atmosphere / Z-Trip @ Toyota Music Factory, Irving, TX Reviewed by Scott Rowe, Editor on August 13, 2021 Rating: 5
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