RZA / Killarmy / Black Knights : Atlanta Earthlink Live

RZA airs tracks from forthcoming Bobby Digital LP 'Digital Bullets...

A few hundred fans of dark, gravelly jeep beats wait patiently in the plush, velvet-lined nooks of the lobby or the semi-circular cascading seating of Atlanta’s coliseum-like Earthlink Live as three tour buses worth of Wu-Tang -affiliated soldiers relax backstage.

Drills was to commence at 8 p.m., but it’s 10 p.m. before the opening DJ even goes on. Of the four slated opening acts – Wu-Tang Killa Bees, Shaheim The Man Child, Killarmy and Black Knights – only two are here, which is good, because the promoters want the show over at midnight.

The stage is sparse – just turntables and a DJ – to leave room for the 10 people at any one time who hang in the wings, bobbing their heads to the undercurrent of dirty RZA-produced or influenced beats that runs through every act.

After Black Knights fail in their crusade to get the crowd hyped, Killarmy come out, lyrical guns blazing. Though Killarmy don’t wear their trademark fatigues, the six men stage an all-out war on the soundsystem, blasting the crowd to “wake the fuck up,” and daring the soundman to “turn this shit the fuck up.” Killarmy shoot through a rapid-fire set of tracks mostly from their second album, ‘Dirty Weaponry’, though they do pause to announce their new joint, ‘Militant’ and plug their new album coming in August.

Killarmy’s self-promoting approach – playing two verses of a song then giving big ups to themselves and their albums – sets the tone. There are promotional tours, and then there’s a promo tour. Tonight is like one of those advance snippet CDs labels send out – it’s a dick tease. And the audience, who came out for RZA, touring as his alter-ego Bobby Digital, get teased mercilessly.

Finally, RZA, swigging from a wine bottle, emerges and along with some of Killarmy plays bits and pieces of ‘Wu-Tang Forever’ and ‘Bobby Digital’, songs like ‘Wu-Tang Clan Ain’t Nuthing Ta F’ Wit’ and ‘Domestic Violence’, spawns lyrical sperm and gives short previews from Bobby Digital’s new August release, ‘Digital Bullet’, which sounds more obviously loop-based and playful, full of crisp sitars and strings, almost childish, though not amateurish. Then, at 12:30 a.m., after only 30 minutes of the RZA, just as they’re turning the shit out, they shut the shit down, as the RZA pop, pop, pops one last digital bullet off for the curfew.

Tony Ware