As teens growing up in Los Angeles, Eso Tre and Subz (now members of L.A. area Hip Hop duo, Substance Abuse) frequented the local shows, and eventually ended up on the stage themselves. Performing all over the Los Angeles area, Substance Abuse has learned its fair share of lessons over the years. One important lesson stuck with them: crowds are a crap shoot.


** Listen to “West Los” by Substance Abuse on Earbits Radio! **


Live shows.  When musicians engage in creativevisualization, it almost always involves some fantasy where thousands of fans have gathered to adulate their favorite performer, the underdog who has weathered spurious criticism and adversity to take hold of the spotlight and bring that true school funk back to the forefront.

Yeah right.

If you have any experience performing live, you know that getting a favorable reaction from the crowd is dependent on a variety of factors that are beyond the artist’s control.  This is especially true when you’re an unknown.  Whether singing (or rapping) your heart out, being lauded by a group of music enthusiasts often hinges more on being a name that they recognize than having a dope live jam.  Gone are the days where an anonymous lyricist can get on stage before a headliner and steal the show with a dope freestyle.  Of course, there are exceptions.


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Being fortunate enough to have performed with some of our heroes like Kool Keith, Freestyle Fellowship and Souls of Mischief, we know what a crap shoot live gigs can be.  Sometimes the crowd cheers when you kick that well-crafted acapella you’ve been sitting on for so long.  Sometimes you get a few shouts of approval.  And once in a while you’re left with a sea of expressionless faces, whose silence is hard to read.  But regardless of how the crowd as a whole reacts, you are promised one thing: a few pounds when you get off stage from those kids who really listened to the lyrics you were kicking and appreciated what you had to say, even if your name wasn’t in the biggest font on the flyer.

Whether being served hors d’oeuvres by a real life pimp before we rocked the Mezzanine in San Francisco, getting highly inebriated before our grandstand at the now defunct Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara, or kicking rhymes at the legendary Knitting Factory in Hollywood, we’ve had some great times performing up and down the California coast, a legacy we plan to continue with the release of our next effort, “Background Music”.  And while crowd enthusiasm is sometimes difficult to gauge, there’s always at least a couple real Cali hip hop heads ready to give you some much desired props the second you step off stage.  Guaranteed.


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