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House of Pain: Back from the dead?


On hiatus for the last 13 years, Irish-bred rap group House of Pain returned for a one-night performance at the Roxy on St. Patty’s Day. One would think that after over a decade off-stage, the group would have delivered a power-punch performance that lingered on the lips of the audience for years to come. Instead, the audience received yes energetic, but not a long-lasting impression of this once ground-breaking group.

 

I’ll call it the condensed soup version of House of Pain. The familiar 90s songs were cut down to a mere licking of their original splendor. The group started with “Top o' the Morning to Ya,” a huge hit off their first (self-titled) album from 1992, which got the half-drunk, half-baked sausage-fest into a frenzy of little-girl screams and hand-throws. But as the songs progressed, their play-time seemed to get cut shorter and shorter. By the time “Shamrocks and Shenanigans” got played, about tenth in the playlist, the chorus (Boom, shalack lack boom) was barely out before the next song was up for grabs. Even the last song of the evening, and the climax of the entire night, “Jump Around,” got seemingly cut off abruptly as the group left the audiences (some on stage still after bum-rushing it) to continue chanting, “jump, jump” as the group exited stage right.

 
Photo by Eric Baumann
For a full slideshow, click here


Still, the group delivered a powerful, high-energy performance for the full 45-minutes they were on stage with plenty of sweat and some heart. When Everlast performed his solo hit “What It’s Like,” from his Whitey Ford Sings the Blues album it was a calming, and probably the most heartfelt moment of the entire evening. Otherwise many of the motions were made, the energy level was there, but the radiating passion that once consumed the group felt fizzled in some of the members.
 

Some of the most punctuating lyrical punches came from faces never billed as House of Pain before: Slaine, a Southie-bred rapper, alongside New Yorker MCs Ill Bill and Big Left. The new cast members are actually not part of HoP but – along with Everlast, Danny Boy and DJ Lethal – constitute LA-based rap group La Coka Nostra.   

La Coka Nostra are on tour, promoting their debut album A Brand You Can Trust, being released “sometime in the next three months,” said Erik Schrody, aka Everlast, though none of their tunes were played last night. While the tour had a stop scheduled for Mokena, Ill. on St. Patty’s Day, Everlast says “We reserve the right to play wherever we want on St. Patty’s Day.” And where they choose to play was at a party sponsored by Southie Dana White, Ultimate Fighting Championship president, whose PR team is in town trying to convince Massachusetts legislators to legalize the sport here, said Jennifer Wenk, UFC’s PR director.

While the group started off with boom-blasting energy, the entire UFC event was rather lackluster. The overly-toned 95-percent-male crowd was kept waiting for two hours at an over-priced bar (who pays $7 for a Bud Light in Boston?) with little more than a CD playing in the background. The crowd looked ready to pounce on any skirt that walked by out of sheer boredom and drunkenly-raged hormones. Good thing I was in jeans.


Photo by Eric Baumann.
For a full slideshow, click
here

 

Had the promoter provided some opening acts, even a short speech by himself or Wenk, the night might have felt more like an event than a last-minute idea. The first two hours of the party were nothing less than excruciatingly boring, even with two vodka tonics in my system (and I’m a lightweight). What the invite-only crowd could have seriously benefited from was if the promoter had opened up the club to some of Coka’s Internet groupies.

 

“We’ve been strictly Internet-based for the last two years,” says Everlast. “Our fans are really the ones that made us produce this record.”

 

The serious lack of serious fans and people, mostly skirts, created a very anxious mood about the place, the rushed songs didn’t help. Perhaps the lack of passion from the floor translated to that on-stage, either way, I’m excited to hear what La Coka Nostra can cook up, but even though “I gotta lot of love for ya,” HoP, I think it’s time to “shut that door.”

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