I missed a local show I was gearing up to go to December 7th. It was free and an exciting opportunity to see some homegrown talent. I had a producer homie lined up to accompany me. Real life happens though, we got stuck at work. Almost by chance, I peeped a flyer to a Lil Ugly Mane show happening the very next night not even 20 minutes after accepting defeat over missing the former. As far as I can tell based on some light research, Lil Ugly Mane has never performed in AZ. This was a golden opportunity, seeing to it that (to me at least) this is one of the more important shows I’d ever make it to given the sheer stature of who Lil Ugly Mane is. This was a heavy hitter that has undeniably made a lasting impression on the underground scene that we at UVC continually celebrate, coming to my city for once. I don’t intend to habitually review shows, and as trite as it has become to extend this sentiment to any concert, this Lil Ugly Mane show was a fundamentally beautiful and awakening experience, complete with a myriad of individuals of all subcultures.  

The lineup was an assorted bunch. The bill emphasized Lil Ugly Mane, obviously, accompanied by metal band Gatecreeper. The two would end up being the emphasis of all official show related promotion i.e. “Lil Ugly Mane + Gatecreeper”. Additional openers included hardcore band Burnout and synth duo Body Of Light. Unbeknownst to me, given this outing was a fortunate spur of the moment, I had no prior familiarity with any of these opening acts. This unfamiliarity turned out to be a beneficial to me as a concert-goer, as the bold disparity between the openers was a pleasant surprise. The show itself was a revolving door of sounds and energy, all happening in bite-sized segments.  

The venue was abundant with individuals of all ages. The first thing I caught sight of was a young kid no older than maybe 10 with a guy I can only assume to be his dad. On the other end of the spectrum was a man at least in his 40s; salt and pepper beard, leather studded vest and all, making aggressive rounds in the pit. Digressing, one quick scan of the venue, which in all honesty was rather lightly occupied compared to other shows, it was easy to notice that the crowd was mostly visibly filled with those who came to see an underground rap show. That being said, the show started relatively on time, and the acts corralled in these rap kids (I dare call this crowd of various ages kids for simplicity) rather quickly.  

The opener hopped up onstage in little time, a punk adjacent band Burnout. The reception was lukewarm as it is with most openers, no energy was expended to neither mosh nor move really, other than some captivated head bobbing. The sound was rather forgettable, energetic, but not enough to really rile up the crowd in fascination, say for the choice to use the loudest guitar reverb as a unique yet abrasive supplement to the instruments.  

Following Burnout, was a complete change of pace, a proverbial calm before the storm, a synth duo named Body of Light. Complete with mixers, a keyboard, and midi pads, this goth esque electronic group was entirely entrancing. While still not completely capturing the full attention of the crowd, best believe I saw handfuls of people going from a stand still during the first set to a hesitant, then exuberant dancing or at the very least expressive body language. There were some murmurs of discontent during the set, but it was a really fascinating change to add a synth band into the lineup of a mostly hardcore/rap show, a decision that left me stunned and gratified as the almost 80s retro sound droned on. Gatecreeper was the next to go up. In all honesty this crowd wasn’t the quickest to thrash around in a pit, something I eagerly took to. Given this, the chaotic and energetic sound of Gatecreeper was somewhat lost on me. It was more of a bodily experience more than an auditory one.  

Lil Ugly Mane finally comes up after the crowd unwinds to a short DJ set, taking large confident strides about the stage as this wave of people comparable to a seastorm flock to the center of the venue as I, having my fill of bodily exuberance, watch closely from left stage. Lil Ugly Mane stuck mostly to a set list comprised of ​Mista Thug Isolation. The most enthralling tracks to the crowd seemingly were ​Cup Fulla Beetlejuice, Wishmaster and ​No Slack In My Mack.

Next to the solid performance of the set list, a defining moment of this concert was Lil Ugly Mane challenging venue security about kicking out crowd surfers. Not uncommon, but fascinating how easily Lil Ugly Mane was able to just float about the crowd both while rapping and threatening security to “kick him out”, crowd members never missing a beat to extend arms, neither for Lil Ugly Mane or random surfers. It was an aggressive performance, the bold bars and energy was infectious and gripping. It seemed to last much longer than it did, and after what I believe to be was ​Throw Dem Gunz, Lil Ugly Mane’s set concluded.  

As quickly as it started, the show ended. The orange beanie clad headliner disappeared into a side exit of the venue. My friend and I then walked into the brisk cold, me feeling revived after about a week or so of depressive and nervous thoughts (whether it was the weather or the music that did the trick I’m not sure). I still had Body of Light stuck in my head, as it was a surreal opening to a rather dreamlike and intimate event that I was lucky to take part in. Someone as pertinent to the underground as Lil Ugly Mane, coming to a small venue in Phoenix, with a rather small crowd, giving his all to perform hits from an album 6 years old. It was equally socially fascinating to see the diversity in the crowd. All races, ages, and fan circles; young rap kids dripped in streetwear, old metal heads adorning weathered leather, and an uncategorized loose canon I’ve seen at various other shows that styled and dyed his dreads similar to that of a crown, all together to celebrate a selection of various artists topped off by a legend.

The last piece I’d like to impart to you is this, while Lil Ugly Mane alone has reached a certain level of notoriety worth celebrating, at the core of what we’re all a part of is vocalizing gratitude for these artists, underground heavy hitter or not. These shows are an impactful part of our lives, and appreciation shouldn’t be something few and sparse, but over abundant. Burnout, Body of Light, Gatecreeper, and of course Lil Ugly Mane, run em up.