JPEGMAFIA concludes 2019 tour in Baltimore

By ALEX HECKSHER GOMES | November 14, 2019

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 COURTESY OF ALEX HECKSHER GOMES

JPEGMAFIA performed at the Ottobar in Baltimore for an animated and sweat-drenched crowd.  

JPEGMAFIA returned to Baltimore on Saturday, Nov. 9 for the final leg of his JPEGMAFIA Type Tour and played to a sold-out audience at the Ottobar. This tour follows the release of Peggy’s newest album, All My Heroes Are Cornballs. Opening for JPEG on his tour was Butch Dawson, a rapper and producer from West Baltimore. 

Butch Dawson mainly played songs from his two latest albums Swamp Boy and Ollieworld, released in 2018 and 2019, respectively. He spent his time slot animating the crowd with his mix of heavy bass, trap beats and priceless lyrics.

The crowd’s moshing and swaying reached a fever pitch during his song “Feel Nobody.” People were getting tossed around to lyrics like, “I do this shit for Ollie” and “Drippin’ hot sauce on a cop car.” 

At one point Dawson invited a member from the audience who introduced himself as “Max” to help him out with the vocal on the next song. When Butch left, the crowd was hot and bothered. They were ready for Peggy. 

By the time people had dried off and stopped sweating, JPEGMAFIA came on stage ready to make everyone sweat again. JPEG came dressed in his usual style of tight ripped jeans and a bandana wrapped over his forehead. It also appeared that he was sporting a new gold grill. 

Or maybe his teeth just had a really great shine to them. Regardless, Peggy started the show off with one of his singles off the latest album, “Jesus Forgive Me, I Am A Thot.” The song is anthemic and full of great autotune — not to mention that the lyrics are pretty cool. 

The crowd had an unrelenting energy for Peggy from the first song. The crowd’s moshing and jumping and screaming and sweat matched Peggy’s frenetic rapping. As he played, some mesmerizing graphics projected behind him, changing from song to song and often involving some sort of glitchy, experimental animation, which seemed to be an accurate visual reflection of what the music was like. 

As usual, Peggy was always engaging the audience. He would lean over sections of the crowd, as sweaty people reached out to touch him. At one point he was given a blonde wig from someone in the crowd, which he then donned for part of his set. At another point he motioned his hands and signalled to the crowd to part. He then hopped off stage as a mass of human bodies formed a circle around him. People moshed all around as he played the next song and distributed his sweat among the audience. 

All around the venue were signs stating that no stage diving would be allowed. I still don’t know whether they meant that for the audience or the performers. Regardless, Peggy did a lot of stage diving. At one point he jumped from the stage to the crowd, got carried over to the mezzanine, climbed up to the mezzanine and then jumped back into the crowd. 

As someone who is afraid of getting injured or dying, it was terrifying but also thrilling to watch Peggy put his trust in that crowd to catch him every time he dove. 

After a couple songs, Peggy did his freestyle, which involved him yelling his verses into the mic with no beat or instrumental behind him. If you have not heard Peggy’s freestyle, it is cathartic and everything you could want from Peggy. Speaking of everything you could want from Peggy, later he played “BasicBitchTearGas,” his own rendition of “No Scrubs” by TLC. Often, his musical influences and samples are a little more subtle, but this song was pretty great. So I don’t think anyone could complain. 

Peggy also played several classic songs from his 2018 album, Veteran, the most memorable of which was “1539 N. Calvert,” when JPEG invited up all the artists and creators who used to hang with him in the Bell Foundry, the artist space to which the song title refers. 

It was really fun to see a bunch of artists from the Baltimore scene, including Peggy, just have a good time with each other on stage. And one Baltimore artist, Freaky, got to make a second appearance when he and Peggy played their iconic song “I Might Vote 4 Donald Trump.” 

If you don’t know Peggy, the title might be misleading. Or maybe not. I don’t know what you’re thinking. Either way it’s a wild song, and it was great to see Peggy and Freaky perform it live. 

JPEGMAFIA brought it all out for Baltimore. At the end of the show, everyone was soaked and satisfied. JPEG’s last show of the tour is Monday, Nov. 11, Veteran’s Day. It is at the Ottobar again and at least one person in the audience on Saturday confirmed they are going to be at the other show. That’s some pretty good retention. 

I would undoubtedly recommend seeing JPEGMAFIA if possible, and, if you like sweat, that’s an added bonus. It is fantastic to see someone who clearly loves making music so much, and it was fantastic to see him perform for to such an eager, adoring, wet audience.

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