All photos by Dillon Flowers

If you’ve been paying attention to pop culture news or simply skimmed Twitter over the last three months, chances are you’ve seen or heard SOB x RBE circulating. Featured on the Kendrick Lamar-curated soundtrack for Black Panther—alongside artists such as ScHoolboy Q, 2 Chainz and Travis Scott—the Vallejo-based rap group generated serious acclaim for their track “Paramedic!,” a wild, hard-hitting, hyphy blend of the foursome’s distinct voices and energy.

SOB x RBE (which stands for Strictly Only Brothers, Real Boi Entertainment, and who are comprised of Yhung T.O. Slimmy B, DaBoii and Lul G) took Ace of Spades’ stage Saturday, April 14 for a manic, chaotic and, more times than not, aggressive show. SOB entered the premises following their opener Cuban Doll, who I now refer to as “Mini Minaj.” The rapper desperately tried to play catch-up with her own lyrics, and my first interaction with Cuban Doll was hopefully my last. I also hoped that, like a fine wine, my Saturday night experience would get better with time.

No one will disagree that SOB conveys an enormous amount of energy during their performances. They were in constant motion across the stage, interacting with each other as they danced and even threw water on screaming fans. Unfortunately, their lively onstage technique came at the expense of their lyrical performance. During their two-hour show, there was more pronunciation from the 18-year-old fans within the pit than the 18-year-olds on stage. SOB, like Cuban Doll, were constantly off their own music. When they finally managed to connect with their sound, their lyrics were drowned out by their own bass.

Midway through the performance, Yhung T.O. apologized for some of the group being “too lit” to perform, and decided to continue rapping on behalf of his peers. I must acknowledge how committed and true SOB’s fanbase is. Their consistent loyalty was proven, as they performed every lyric to SOB’s music when SOB could not. The larger-than-life expectation for their show was never met, and as an audience member, neither was mine.

My favorite part of the night was watching the children SOB x RBE brought on stage. All ethics out the window, the children—all between the ages of 5 and 10—were just as hyped, if not more so, than SOB. With marijuana smoke blanketing the acoustics, one-by-one, children took the stage to dance and rap along with SOB. The kiddos flipped off the audience, cursed and displayed the many profanities within SOB’s lyrics; it was as if SOB x RBE produced mini-mes of themselves just in time for the ending of the show.

SOB closed with fan-favorite “Paramedic!,” which began in and stayed in darkness on stage for the duration of the song. SOB, their mini-mes and any other person in connection to the group joined together for a pivotal and climactic ending to the night. The illumination of the spotlights were replaced by the shrieks of overly-hyped teenagers trying to scream over one another to claim their worth as a fan. By now, the strain in SOB’s voices was clearly heard, though I doubt this concerned anyone but me. At one point, one of the children on stage with SOB was on top of the DJ booth dancing five feet off the ground. He was hastily put back on the ground (whether for safety or liability issues is unknown) before someone literally needed to call a paramedic.

As SOB x RBE group closed the show, the crowd erupted into cheers and cries. This resulted in a surge of energetic attendees trying to exit Ace of Spades’ doors in hopes of being first in line for a meet-and-greet with the group. As I felt my eyes glaze over, a modest signal of disappointment mixed with exhaustion—which was perfectly in-tune with my throbbing, music-induced headache—I could only think one thing: “I missed Coachella’s live stream for this?”

**This review first appeared in print on page 10 of issue #264 (April 23 – May 7, 2018)**