In Portland, Los Angeles does not have a good rep. Portlanders love to rip on SoCal materialism, phonies, the Lakers, pollution, urban sprawl and constant sunshine—the antitheses of our city. However, on Monday night at the Doug Fir, the sold-out audience was chanting “Ugh, L.A. / Californ-I-A!”—the only group that could get us to do that is the L.A.-based hip-hop duo People Under The Stairs.
On tour promoting their new album, 12 Step Program (released on May 6), PUTS started off the night with their new single “1 Up Til Sun Up” (above). The crowd embraced the new material, throwing their hands up and dancing, and especially went wild for old favorites like “Trippin’ at the Disco” and “Acid Raindrops” (below), singing along to the choruses.
Known for their staunchly independent nature, the members of PUTS—Thes One and Double K—do all their own sampling, DJing, emceeing, and self-produced all nine of their studio albums. At one point during the show, Thes One said, “We’ve never been signed to a major record label. Fuck that! We put these shows on ourselves!” That's the DIY attitude that wins over Portlanders.
Throughout the show, the audience was constantly involved—from chanting the obligatory “aaahhhHHHH, SHIT!” mantra throughout “Montego Slay” to holding their lighters high for the nostalgic song “San Francisco Knights” (below). And at one point, Thes One couldn’t stop the audience from yelling and cheering, even when he tried. “Alright, alright,” he said motioning to the audience to quiet down so he could say something but it just got louder, lasting for another glorious 60 seconds.
Their performance boasted some solid old-school hip-hop elements. Double K beatboxed and scratched while Thes One freestyled and played the drum machine. They also performed one song a capella and busted out high-energy dance moves. And à la the Biz Markie and the Humpty Dance, Thes One taught the audience a silly Rob Ford-inspired dance to their new song “Pictures on My Wall.”
In addition to their independent and old-school nature, PUTS are also genuinely positive. They didn’t say “bitch,” “ho” or “nigga,” or rap about violence, guns or sexism at any point during the show. Instead, they rapped about beer, weed, partying and having fun. At one point there was a call-and-response chant with PUTS shouting “have fun!” and the whole audience yelling it right back at them.
At 12:13am, after the audience demanded an encore by repeatedly chanting “People!” Thes One told the audience, “Our show was supposed to end 13 minutes ago” as he tentatively eyed the security guards. But did PUTS stop the show? No. Instead, they invited every woman in the house to come up and dance on stage to their extended version of “Hang Loose” (listen below). And one woman dancing next to Double K repeatedly flashed her buxom bosoms, ending the show on a high note for everybody.
After most of the audience cleared out of the venue, Thes One came back out, instigating a mini-mob to rush back to the stage. Fans took pictures with him, chatted with him, asked him questions, and gave him hip-hop handshakes. One fan kept repeating, “You are changing the world!” Thes One was down to earth, friendly and talked honestly with fans for 25 minutes. Now that’s some positive energy. Maybe everything out of L.A. isn’t so bad.