Reviewed Oct. 22, 1994.
MC 900 Ft. Jesus mastermind Mark Griffin finally seems poised to live up to his potential. No longer slave to the repetitious sampled beats that marked his first two albums, the classically trained, Dallas-based instrumentalist has fashioned a top-notch band, whose jazz-fusion excursions now elevate the music of MC 900 Ft. Jesus to a most intriguing and rarefied level.
The more or less straight-ahead, urban hip-hop habits of old are replaced on the new “One Step Ahead of the Spider” (American Recordings), and at the near-capacity Palace, by a foundation that recalls the midcentury styles of Miles Davis’ earliest band, giving Griffin’s eccentric spoken-word lyrics a mystifying and challenging vibe.
Griffin and his band spun vivid musical tales that often seemed to confuse the audience. By the encore, Thelonious Monk’s intricate “Well You Needn’t” made little impact on the already perplexed listeners.
Second-billed Consolidated left no room for confusion in their in-your-face, politically charged industrial attack. Railing at a host of the world’s “evils,” including the consumption of meat, intolerance and capital punishment, the Bay Area trio hit hard, using controversial film footage to drive home their angry soundbites.
The group’s latest album, “Business of Punishment” (London), stays true to Consolidated’s long-held belief that any message is useless unless it’s heard. After the band’s show here, which featured, among other tricks, a film of animal slaughter with an accompanying recording of kids singing “Old MacDonald,” there’s no question that the group’s messages were received.