The Pharcyde made their name in the ’90s with the iconic Bizarre Ride II and its follow-up Labcabincalifornia. Since then, the group has been fairly unstable, often performing as a duo or trio (instead of the original four), with no new music since 2004 and only sporadic collaborations, solo releases and tours since then. The current tour features the three rappers (only DJ Bootie Brown is missing), but the trio are still wonderfully in sync, delivering a tight set that showcases why those first couple of albums are so beloved.
There’s the obligatory opening DJ set from Nasty P, but otherwise little fanfare before the group’s arrival. But there’s no lead-in time required as they launch straight into Ya Mama – a dose of ’90s nostalgia straight to the brain that doesn’t stop for a moment of the hour and change performance. The crowd features a surprising amount of fans easily too young for the group’s heyday (some maybe not even born), but they all come together in unison to lose their shit to Drop, 4 Better or 4 Worse and especially I’m That Type of N***a. The latter in particular reaches highs of riotous movement that won’t be surpassed all night.
There is mention of a new song, but it’s not clear if it’s actually played (perhaps just a snippet), but otherwise everything is from the first two albums. Soul Flower benefits from some devilish red lights, Oh Shit sees some solid split crowd-work from Imani and Fatlip, and Pack the Pipe is one of the only chilled moments, the stage of course bathed in green light.
Slimkid3 is reserved to start with, playing the de facto bandleader, but content in the background, saving his energy for hits like Otha Fish and Passin’ Me By. Imani has serious Flava Flav vibes, though is probably a better rapper. He’s definitely the clown of the group, constantly dancing, throwing high kicks and mugging towards the crowd as the band manager struggles to keep his area slip-free (a heady mix of beer and sweat keep the stage slick all night). Fatlip has the most impressive flow of the three, always steady and on point, occasionally dropping into a capella (She Said) to show off his skills.
It’s a short set, but it’s truly all killer no filler. The trio know their strengths and no-one is in any doubt that they still put on a great show after 30+ years, with the encore of Runnin’ the icing on the cake. It’s taken them that long to finally play a show in Edinburgh – here’s hoping they’ll be back soon.