Thursday, January 27, 2022
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Run the Jewels Incites a “Prison Riot” at the Midland

Last Thursday, rap duo Run the Jewels performed to a thunderously energetic crowd at the Midland.
The group, consisting of Atlanta-based rapper Killer Mike and Brooklyn-based El-P, released their second album “Run the Jewels 2” in Oct. 2014. The album was released as a free digital download to overwhelming critical acclaim. The duo’s performance at the Midland marked their Kansas City debut.
At around 9:30 p.m. Run the Jewels’ DJ, Trackstar, took to the stage and began playing Queen’s “We Are the Champions.” The crowd began to roar.

Bathed in blood-red stage lighting and shrouded in fog, El-P and Killer Mike came on stage already bowing. The roaring intensified, as if the audience were energized by their appearance.

Opening with the eponymously named “Run the Jewels,” the duo delivered an hour-long performance with electrifying enthusiasm.

Throughout the concert the Midland was filled with the chants of screaming fans. You would be hard-pressed to find someone there that evening who didn’t know the lyrics. Both El-P and Killer Mike’s faces lit up each time they would drop their mics, letting the crowd’s voices be heard.

“We knew Kansas City had great barbecue and great people, because people have been nice to us all day,” Killer Mike said during the show. “But we had no idea it was going to be like this in here. Thank you so f—ing much.”

Crowd members raised their arms up high—hands in the shape of a fist and gun—mimicking Run the Jewel’s signature symbol. These hand signs echoed the large black banners which adorned the stage, emblazoned with two severed, zombie-like fist and gun hands.

One of the most memorable parts of the show came when the duo performed their abrasively titled track “Close Your Eyes (And Count to F—).” As the beat dropped the entire crowd began to jump around, feeding off the frenetic and bombastic beat delivered by Trackstar.

Killer Mike and El-P’s aggressively violent and clever lyrics punctuated the equally aggressive bass-beats of their tracks. However, the crowd carried an overwhelmingly positive an upbeat energy throughout the evening.

Of particular note were several instances of crowd-surfing which occurred during the concert. Inspired by opener Boot’s guest appearance during Run the Jewels’ performance of “Early,” several people followed suit.

Run the Jewels’ last song of their set was the well-received “A Christmas F—ing Miracle.” The performance was prefaced by some kind words from El-P.

“I would like to dedicate this song to the person in your life that might not have made it this far,” El-P said. “If you have someone like that, and you wish they could be here sharing this moment with you, hold your hand up.”

After leaving the stage, the crowd began chanting “R.T.J.” repetitiously. The booming chant filled the Midland until El-P and Killer Mike returned to the stage.

“Y’all sound like a f—ing prison out here,” El-P said.

The duo closed the show with an encore performance of the track “Angel Duster.” Throughout the song the audience’s prison-riot energy never subsided, not until Killer Mike and El-P left the stage.

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