Hailing from Oakland; California, Subtle are a unique hip-hop outfit. Fronted by MC Adam Drucker a.k.a Doseone, who was also 1/3 of seminal Anticon group cLOUDDEAD, unleashes stream of consciousness verses like a verbal machine gun. Supported by a live drummer, keyboardist/sax player and fellow Anticon member Jeffrey 'Jel' Logan who does amazing things with only a sampler at his disposal. They begin their set with a brace of songs from their new album Exiting ARM. This is the third in a trilogy of releases, which follow the exploits of a character called Our Hero Yes including the title track which contains the chilling verse "would you skin your skull to draw its strength, would you swallow a lie to disinfect your angst, would you razorblade redecorate your arm, would you freeze a whole lake to steal you some calm". They don't forget their older songs though, delving through their back catalogue and coming up with tracks like The Mercury Crazy from their second album For Hero For Fool it's a stomping, scuzzy tune resplendent with some sleazy sax and see's Doseone picking up one of the many skulls they're got littered on the stage and singing to it like some sort of latter day Hamlet. They even play I heart L.A, which is my favourite Subtle song, and although they hit a minor technical hitch, for some reason one of the loops cuts out just before the "day after day after day" chorus, it still sends shivers down my spine. They even throw in a few obscure tracks from their early ep and some of Doseone's solo work from Skeleton Repellent for the fan-boys in the audience. [caption id="attachment_843" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Doseone"]Doseone[/caption] At first I think that the crowd isn't too into it as no-one seems to be moving about. However the end of every song is greeted with rapturous applause. Cargo has no air-conditioning which means that everyone is far too hot and sweaty to be swaying around to much for fear of collapsing. I don't mind sweating at a gig if I'm dancing around but when you've got beads of it running down your face and all you're doing is tapping your foot along to the music you know that somethings wrong. Dose chats easily to the crowd in between every song. Letting us know his thoughts on the possibility of a black president for America, his amusement at the fact that soy food has been revealed to contain animal enzymes and gleefully informing us of the people he'd like to drown in a bath tub; Robin Williams, Kanye West, and the whole of Saddle Creek. He's on fine form and the crowd are receptive to his charms. Although as the gig wears on there are a few hecklers telling him to shut up and get on with it, including band mate Jel. [caption id="attachment_845" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Doseone & Jel"]Doseone & Jel[/caption] When they first start there seems to be something lacking from their usual sound, I'm also sure that there should be a fifth member. This is cleared up when Doseone explains that electric cellist Alexander Kort was unable to go on tour as he's just had a son. News which gets a big cheer from the crowd. As was the case when I saw Why? Here a few weeks ago the the sound is a bit murky to begin with but slowly improves throughout the gig. By the end of the night though Jel's sampler has been turned right up and I can feel every bass note thud in my chest. As they leave the stage I glance at my watch for the first time and realise that an hour and fifteen minutes has gone by in the blink of an eye. I've been witness to one of the best live performances I've seen this year, an honour shared with Comets on Fire, HEALTH and Animal Collective. I leave Cargo drenched in my own fluids, but a happier man for it.