Swollen Members left the crowd panting, sweaty and wide-eyed after quenching their thirst for nostalgic high school jams, following their JunoFest performance at Babylon Nightclub March 31.
About 100 screaming 20-somethings danced along to “Fuel Injected” and “Breath” as they soaked up the energy and felt the bass course through their bodies.
Founding members Mad Child (Shane Bunting) and Prevail (Kiley Hendriks) resurrected some their hip-hop hits for an electric crowd absolutely stoked to be up-close and personal with the foul-mouthed, tattooed rap duo.
Since 1992, the British Columbia natives have recorded five studio albums and collaborated with artists like Moka Only and Nelly Furtado.
Although the band’s prominence has deteriorated over the years, there was no shortage of energy from the moment the lights dimmed, cuing the crowd to flood in from the cozy rear-house couches and wrap around bar. An enthusiastic and unanimous “SWOL-LEN SWOL-LEN SWOL-LEN” chant erupted as the pair took to the stage and opened with “Red Dragon” off their 2002 album Monsters in the Closet. Mad Child greeted fans inches from him at the stage.
“So it’s gonna be one of those nights, is it?” he said.
The crowd answered with cheers and more chanting.
Mouths dropped and hearts jumped as the boys got even more intimate with the crowd. Prevail locked eyes with fans as he dove further into the crowd. He gave hugs, props and even his mic so people could rap along.
With about two-thirds of their set complete, silence blanketed the club to hear Prevail freestyle.
“Motherfucker, I asked you a question!” Mad Child screamed.
Naturally, this was welcomed by a roar of applause and momentary silence until Prevail dropped into a three-piece rhyme.
Laced swiftly and brilliantly into his words were a few shout-outs to Babylon and the Ottawa scene. He also expressed his “Canada, Canada, Canada” pride, especially in its rap/hip-hop music scenes. It was hard not to smile, bounce or bob your head, and feel a warm sense of community throughout his freestyle session.
Evan McEwen, a long-time fan and fifth-year computer science student at Carleton, said he couldn’t resist taking a break from studying to hit up the show.
“They just literally blew my mind,” he said. “Best live show I’ve ever seen in my life. Hands down.”