Published May 26, 2019There's a certain dissonance to Snotty Rose Rez Kids being a party band, given the way their music tackles heavy themes like pipeline expansion and the racist stereotyping of Indigenous peoples. But without a doubt, their late-night set at the Rock House was an absolutely raging party, as the Vancouver-based duo delivered socially conscious anthems with a mix of celebration and cathartic anger.
They came on stage to the choral strains of Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" — which proved to be an ongoing theme, as they later sang along to the beat of "We Will Rock You," and band member Yung Trybez wore a Freddie Mercury shirt.
This was the duo's first time in St. John's, so it was clearly the first time most of the audience had seen the Rez Kids. When Yung D asked, "Who here's been with us since day one?" there was a sudden silence in the room. But it didn't take long for SNRK to win the crowd over with a string of bangers from this year's Trapline LP, with DJ Kookum handing out beats that combined modern club production with a little classic boom-bap.
Yung D and Yung Trybez rapped, yelped and screamed lyrics about their own experiences growing up in the Haisla Nation, while also alluding to hip-hop culture at large by cribbing lyrics from Kendrick Lamar's "Alright," Lil Pump's "Gucci Gang" and OutKast's "Hey Ya!" Yung Trybez even did some "yeuch" ad-libs that were pure Pusha T.
Just when the energy seemed to be at its peak, SNRK turned it up another notch by clearing out a space on the floor for them to perform "I Can't Remember My Name." They then split the audience down the centre of the room to chant along to "Aliens vs. Indians."
It's distinctly uncomfortable to be part of a largely white crowd chanting "Aliens! Indians!" — but that paradox of partying and conscious hip-hop is what makes the Rez Kids' music so powerful.
The Rez Kids may not have been to St. John's before, but they doubtless left Lawnya Vawnya with a few new fans: as Yung D said near to the end of the set, "This is our first time out here, fam, and we feel right the fuck at home."