Luscious Jackson Bewitches Deep Ellum Crowd

by Crayton Harrison
March 6, 1997

Luscious Jackson entranced its young audience Tuesday night at Deep Ellum Live, turning an aggressive throng of crowd-surfers into a crowd of peaceful dancers.

The New York band used hypnotic grooves, engaging vocals and pop music mastery to tame its audience and bring it into submission.

The crowd filled most of the Deep Ellum Live floor. Many audience members wore vintage clothes, mimicking the band in dress.

The band opened with a thrilling percussion assault, rousing the audience into a frenzy. Drummer Kate Schellenbach, who began her musical career as the original drummer for the Beastie Boys, dished out a tribal, exotic beat.

The young crowd began to push and shove each other near the stage, and a few audience members became part of the ’90s concert ritual of crowd-surfing – that is, until the band stopped them.

Looking out at the fans with a motherly expression, vocalist and bass player Jill Cuniff asked the audience to stop crowd-surfing because it might interfere with the enjoyment of “those underneath.”

Most of the crowd obeyed and, as the band began a series of disco-influenced songs, audience members went from nodding their heads to the beat to uninhibited dancing.

Luscious Jackson played mostly slow-tempo jams with hip-hop beats, showing the flavor of its urban background.

One of the band’s hits, City Song, combined cool, subdued rap vocals by guitarist Gabrielle Glaser countered by Cuniff’s soaring chorus.

Luscious Jackson kept the crowd on its feet with the heavily disco-influenced More, the nasty funk of Deep Shag and the blistering pop hit Naked Eye.

The band kept the positive energy flowing throughout the show, pacifying the audience with charm.

“We’re going to play a punk song now,” Cuniff announced, “but please don’t hurt each other.”

The audience obeyed, and the band rewarded it by talking with fans after the performance.

Alternative rock trio The Eels opened the show using gimmicks and humor in an attempt to enliven the audience, without much success.

The band used a telephone as a microphone in one song and all three members played drums in another song. The band’s bored, withdrawn delivery failed to deliver much enthusiasm, at least not until it played its alternative radio hit Novacaine for the Soul.

It took more power to win over the audience Tuesday night.

Luckily, Luscious Jackson had the right weapons.

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